Tasks Before Us

May 20, 2014

A year ago the MHSAA convened the first of several task forces that are tackling the kind of complicated topics on which our annual committee meeting process seemed incapable of making sufficient progress.
We assembled a 16-member task force that met four times over six months during 2013 to develop policy proposals to enhance acclimatization and reduce head-to-head contact in football practices. Meeting multiple times, the group could delve more deeply into data and explore emerging trends in both school-based and non-school football. The task force would develop ideas at one meeting, test them with constituents for a few weeks and then tweak the ideas at the next meetings. Task force members had the time to be both philosophical and practical, to think about what would be ideal and then trim that idea to be workable in all sorts and sizes of schools across Michigan.
As a result of this focused, multi-session approach, the Football Practice Proposals sailed smoothly through a vetting process during the winter months, earned the MHSAA Representative Council’s approval in March and will be controlling MHSAA member school football practices this fall.
Meanwhile, we began 2014 with the appointment of another task force to tackle many thorny issues related to junior high/middle schools. Some of the issues are so fundamental that changes in the MHSAA Constitution could be required to change what the MHSAA should be doing with respect to school sports prior to the 9th grade. There is equal chance that the task force could propose some very large changes, or very little change. We don’t prescribe the result, we just provide the forum and facilitation – create focus that has been lacking for too long.
Later this year and during 2015 we see the likelihood that additional task forces will address other tough topics, like out-of-season coaching, redefining what subvarsity means, and possibly address more risk management issues, perhaps in ice hockey and soccer first and then other sports where health and safety questions are raised.

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.