Site Lines

April 17, 2017

It appears that everyone is talking about where the championship rounds of the Michigan High School Athletic Association basketball tournaments should be played.

This has become a topic because our traditional site, Michigan State University’s Breslin Student Events Center, is not available to host the Semifinals and Finals of the girls tournament in 2018 and 2020 or the boys tournament in 2019, in both cases because the facility must remain open for MSU’s women’s basketball team should it earn the privilege of hosting first and second round games of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament.

It is important that the people listening know that most of the people talking have little knowledge of what facilities are actually available in 2018 and beyond.

For example, The Palace of Auburn Hills, Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and Van Andel Arena are not available in 2018, nor is a sentimental favorite for the girls tournament, Central Michigan University.

By mid-May, the MHSAA will have announced decisions for 2018, and likely for that one year only. Between now and the end of 2017, the MHSAA will be evaluating site options for both tournaments, boys and girls, as well as potential scheduling changes for both the regular season and MHSAA tournaments that could alter what facilities are needed and when. This could increase opportunities to use NCAA Division I institutions, and/or this could reduce or eliminate the need for those facilities.

It would be unfortunate if we turn ourselves inside-out and upside-down to avoid NCAA conflicts. Some of the scheduling scenarios being studied would seriously stress District and Regional tournament sites and management as well as overwork the ranks of our tournament-ready basketball officials. Other scheduling scenarios would adversely affect other winter sports or increase overlap with fall sports or spring sports. We need to move carefully, and with broad consensus.

There is a desire to host the championships of the girls and boys tournaments at the same venue, but there is no legal obligation to do so. There is a desire to build on traditions established at Michigan State University, but conflicts and costs make that unlikely to continue. There is a desire to please everyone, but that won’t happen.

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.