Seeking Serious Solutions

April 13, 2018

Too much time is being spent on season-ending tournaments, and too little time on the regular season, and practice, and making sports heathier, and promoting student engagement, and the role of sports in schools.

There are exceptions, of course.

  • The Michigan High School Athletic Association Soccer Committee is a rarity, expressing that there may be too much competition and not enough practice and rest in school-based soccer.

  • The MHSAA Competitive Cheer Committee is constantly looking for the right balance of athleticism and safety – a blend that will challenge the best and grow the sport among the rest.

  • The MHSAA Junior High/Middle School Committee is tackling large, tough topics and beginning to make culture-changing proposals to carry the brand of school sports to younger students.

These are examples of the conversations of which all school-based sports leaders must have much more.

Because our standing committees have often failed us and spent too much time on matters of too little consequence, the MHSAA has often resorted to special task forces or work groups to help get necessary things done.

  • This is how Michigan got ahead of the curve on the length of football practices and the amount of contact. A task force was appointed when the football coaches association and the MHSAA Football Committee were ineffective.

  • Years ago, it wasn’t a standing committee but a work group that brought us the eligibility advancement provision for overage 8th-graders.

  • That’s how cooperative programs came to our state.

  • That’s how we got coaches education started, and it’s how we extended coaches education to apply to more coaches on more topics.

  • This is how we are making progress now – a Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation, and a Work Group on the Transfer Rule.

We need more of this – small groups diving deeply into topics over multiple meetings. Educational athletics has significant problems that require serious solutions, and new strategies for seeking those solutions.

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.