Push “Pause”

January 24, 2014

No student has the right to participate in the voluntary competitive interscholastic athletic program sponsored and conducted at an MHSAA member school. In practical application, this means that all students are assumed to be ineligible for participation until they have earned the privilege of participation.

Students do this by demonstrating that they have met every prerequisite condition for participation which, at minimum, are the eligibility rules of Regulation I (for high schools) and Regulation III (for junior high/middle schools). A student must be eligible under every Section of Regulation I or Regulation III before he or she competes in a scrimmage or contest.

For example, every student who is new to a high school is presumed to be ineligible for interscholastic athletics. School administration must be certain that each student’s circumstances comply with one of the 15 automatic exceptions to the transfer rule’s requirement that new students must sit out approximately one semester.

If one of the exceptions explicitly applies, the student becomes eligible, provided he or she complies with all aspects of all other Sections of Regulation I: enrollment, age, physical exam, previous and current academic records, amateur and awards, etc.

That’s why we teach at in-service meetings for coaches and administrators, “If in doubt, sit ‘em out.” Wait for as much information as possible before entering any student into a scrimmage or contest. Very often a week or two pause before play will avoid a season of forfeits and a school year of frustration.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.