Students of Rules

November 12, 2013

Those who make rules ought to be students of rules. We mean this in at least the two ways this posting and the next will address.

First, rule makers should know the essence of the existing body of rules which they will be responsible for upholding or modifying during the necessary ongoing review of those rules. These rule makers should have a general awareness of when and why each rule was first adopted, how it might have evolved, how it is now applied and what the major compliance problems have been in the past or may be in the future.

This first requirement is as important for those who prepare the rules for the contests – the playing rules – as for those who promulgate the rules that establish the minimum eligibility standards and the maximum limits for competition. In the face of any proposal to eliminate or greatly modify any rule, rule makers must ask what problems may return if they remove the rule that solved those problems.

Dov Seidman writes in how:  Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything:  “Rules, of course, don’t come out of thin air. Legislatures and organizations adopt them usually to proscribe unwanted behaviors but typically in reaction to events. They lower speed limits after automobile accidents become too frequent, regulate pit bulls after a series of dog bites, or institute new expense-tracking procedures after someone is caught trying to get reimbursed for their new iPod. Rules have been established for a reason, but most people are out of touch with the rationale and spirit of why. They don’t read legislative histories and so have a thin, superficial relationship to the rules . . .”

That is not acceptable for those who write, review and revise rules. They have to know where each rule has come from. This is why for the rule makers and for those in our member schools responsible for applying the rules day in and day out, the MHSAA keeps current “The The History, Rationale and Application of the Essential Eligibility Regulations High School Athletics in Michigan."

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.