Predictable Problems

April 9, 2012

A completely predictable theme of this year is that as schools continue to cut support for school sports, they bring more controversy to school sports.

It is impossible to avoid serious problems running a comprehensive interscholastic athletic program involving many participants, lots of spectators, great emotion and some risk of injury, without dedicating competent full-time staff to its supervision.

Two emerging trends since schools have trimmed support for interscholastic athletics are . . .

  1. more mistakes are being made (not because of more deception but because of more distractions – too little time on task); and

  2. more of the oversights are being discovered later in the season.  So late, in fact, that MHSAA tournament brackets are left empty. We had a team claim a Boys District Basketball Tournament trophy one week without playing the District championship game.  The next week another team received a Boys Regional Basketball Tournament trophy without playing the title game. In each case, the opposing team had advanced with an ineligible player, and had to withdraw.

If we reduce time on task, if we minimize training and support, we invite mistakes and oversights, which invites forfeits and injuries, which incites controversy in the school and community.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.