Taking Our Half in the Middle

September 22, 2015

When there is a rule that is as frequently criticized for being too weak as for being too harsh, it’s likely the rule is just about right. 

For every administrator and coach who complains that the transfer rule misses a situation where there is no question the student transferred for sports participation, there are as many administrators and coaches – and many times more parents – who plead for leniency under the transfer rule.

For every congested community in Michigan that offers students multiple school options, and some of those who participate in interscholastic athletics shop for the situation that best fits their needs or desires, there are many more communities in Michigan where few options exist, and transfers by student-athletes are both low in number and logical in nature.

For every call for a mandatory year-long, no-exceptions period of ineligibility to penalize athletic-motivated transfers, there are dozens of transfers by low-level, low-profile student athletes who do not deserve such draconian consequences.

For every statewide high school association in the U.S. that has a tougher transfer rule than Michigan, there are as many that have a weaker transfer rule; or, they have no rule at all because the state’s legislature intervened, usurped the association’s authority and overturned its over-reaching regulation.

The MHSAA transfer rule is not perfect and likely never will be, which is why it is among the two most reviewed and revised rules of the MHSAA Handbook. But the MHSAA transfer rule is on the right path. A dramatic detour will serve school sports badly.

What most negatively affects the administration of the existing transfer rule is the reluctance of administrators and coaches to report directly the violations they observe personally. If these people won’t do their part, they have no right to critique the rule or to criticize the rule makers.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.