November 21, 2014

We freely admit that a state high school association is much better at running tournaments than conducting research. First as athletes and then as coaches, most of us got in the habit of processing information quickly and making fast decisions. Now as administrators, our member schools depend on us for quick answers because the contest our answer may affect is scheduled this week, or tomorrow, or tonight.
However, there is a small body of research that is unique to the MHSAA. Like our counterpoint organizations across the US, we keep the regular-season and postseason tournament records and we have the data for officials registrations, student participation and tournament attendance. Our uniqueness is in two areas.
First, the MHSAA has surveyed its member schools about participation fees (a.k.a., pay-for-play) every school year since 2003-04. This is the longest running survey and largest body of information on this topic anywhere. You can find all the results at here.
Second, the MHSAA has surveyed middle school students three times – in 1997-98, 2001-02, and 2008-09 – and is doing so again this month, to assess what sports they are currently engaged in and are most interested in playing as high school students.
It is this survey that was partly responsible for the MHSAA’s addition of lacrosse and bowling tournaments in 2005 and 2006, the two most recent additions to the MHSAA postseason tournament schedule.

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.