Story Power

January 12, 2015

I spend time every day surfing the MHSAA’s family of websites –, Second Half and My counterpart in another state was astounded that I do this, and incredulous that I could find the time to do this. But it makes perfect sense to me.
More people visit our websites on a typical day than visit our office in East Lansing during an entire year. We have more visitors to our websites during a typical month than attend all of our postseason tournaments combined during a typical year.
We have more opportunity to make first impressions through electronic entry than tournament turnstiles; and for the large majority of people who make contact with the MHSAA, electronic media may provide the only impression they will ever get of the MHSAA.
This is why we have styled the MHSAA’s websites in a manner that is visually pleasing and easy to navigate on both desktop and mobile devices. And this is why we have stuffed these websites not only with schedules, scores and stats but also with stories; and it’s why the stories are presented in text, audio, pictures and video streaming.
We know that those who share the stories of school sports most effectively will shape the message of school sports most persuasively.
Our job is not merely regulation of school sports, but communication about school sports – not merely event management, but content management – managing the message and meaning of school-sponsored sports.

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.