The Off-Season

August 20, 2013

“If you take the summer off, you might have some muscle memory left, but you’re not going to be in the same shape.” That’s what Pam Allyn, director of LitWorld, a nonprofit organization promoting literacy, told Associated Press writer Philip Elliott for a recent story focusing on innovative ways to avoid the “brain drain” during summer vacations.

This gets to the heart of two points the MHSAA has been making.

First, the State of Michigan should stop penalizing public schools that want to begin academic classes prior to the Tuesday after Labor Day. Whether it’s a week, a month or longer, there should be incentives, not penalties, for doing more of what’s needed – providing more time on task.

Second, even for extracurricular sports, where programs begin before classes start in the fall and often extend beyond the end of classes in the spring, there is a need to rethink the summer months. Students need to stay active in a variety of activities during the summer to stay more fit, to help to enhance their acclimatization during early season practices in August and prevent injuries throughout the season.

From a sports perspective, the best summertime investments are to focus on strength and conditioning more than travel teams and tournaments, on variety more than specialization, and on engagement with friends who make the time fun. These are the elements of the “Prep Rally” promotion you can read about here.

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.