Student-Centered Programming

February 7, 2012

For most of the histories of most statewide athletic associations across the country, the association has been a third party.  That is, the association’s work was with adults - administrators, coaches and officials – who had more direct interaction with student-athletes.

That has been changing for most of these associations over the past two decades.

Today, MHSAA staff work directly with student-athletes through the Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete program as well as at sportsmanship summits and captains clinics.  We partner with the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan to conduct our “Reaching Higher” programs for college-bound male and female players.  We have a Student Advisory Council that works with us in our office, at meetings and at tournament venues.

After the Scholar-Athlete program, the oldest of our student-centered programming is the MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference which began in 1989.  The 2012 Women in Sports Leadership Conference, which concluded yesterday, addressed a “Leaders Show Up” theme.  Three dozen presenters interacted with approximately 500 student attendees.

These direct interactions aid the modern athletic association in staying alert to the needs, desires and “idiosyncrasies” of students, who have always been the subject of the work – just less obviously and effectively than they are today.

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.