Sport Status Benefits Cheer Athletes

November 16, 2012

On Oct. 22, 2012, more than 18 years after the MHSAA conducted its first Girls Competitive Cheer Tournament, the American Academy of Pediatrics proclaimed that cheerleading should be designated as a sport at the high school and college levels.

Of course, that’s been the case for some time in Michigan (see July 23, 2010 blog).  Since planning began prior to the 1993-94 school year, the MHSAA has attempted to treat girls competitive cheer in all ways like every other MHSAA tournament sport.

The reason for the Academy’s statement is its concern for injuries.  While cheerleading does not generate as high a rate of injuries as gymnastics, soccer and basketball, the rate of catastrophic injury is comparatively high.

Researchers note that the injury rate in competitive cheer actually has been declining over the past few years of the 28-year study (1982-83 to 2010-11); and they opine that the decline is related to the increased attention cheerleading has gained as its profile has been raised.  The designation as a sport usually leads to improved facilities and equipment and better trained coaches.  We agree.

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.