Priming the Pump

November 28, 2014

Today and tomorrow bring an end to the MHSAA’s fall tournament season that, overall, experienced the worst weather I’ve witnessed in my 29 years of watching our fall events. We are grateful to those hearty fans who followed their favorites through wind, rain, ice and snow.

The MHSAA’s “bread and butter” is its season-ending tournaments. Try as we might to diversify our revenue, all our non-tournament revenue sources combined continue to account for less than 15¢ of every $1 the MHSAA generates. Sponsorships, broadcast rights fees and officials registration fees make a contribution to our enterprise; but the MHSAA operates without membership dues, fines and tournament entry fees.

That leaves gate receipts (ticket sales) as the largest (by far!) source of revenue; and it’s the football and basketball tournaments that pay the way for the many tournaments that the MHSAA operates at a financial loss (we call it an investment).

Because of this narrow flow of revenue, I asked a team of MHSAA staff to take a comprehensive look at the MHSAA’s marketing of its tournaments. Over a series of energetic meetings, these imaginative staff members have compiled a list of ideas to promote MHSAA tournaments by better using existing means and opening up new avenues to generate interest and increase spectator support.

The MHSAA Representative Council will soon vet and vote on a wide variety of ideas generated by our in-house task force. The objectives are a growing customer base enjoying an improved customer experience.

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.