A Temporary Fix

December 8, 2017

After six months of effort, there is only a 12-month solution for issues affecting the girls and boys basketball seasons and Michigan High School Athletic Association basketball tournaments.

On Dec. 1, the MHSAA Representative Council approved switching the girls and boys basketball calendars for 2018-19 only. Boys basketball adopts the regular season and tournament schedules that have previously been in effect for girls, and girls basketball adopts the regular season and tournament schedules that have been in place for boys. The Semifinal and Final venues will continue to be Van Noord Arena at Calvin College for girls and MSU’s Breslin Student Events Center for boys.

Decisions regarding schedules and sites for the 2019-20 season and beyond will be determined by the Council at a later meeting.

The MHSAA’s hand has been forced by NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament conflicts with the traditional dates for MHSAA basketball tournaments. That changing NCAA schedule and other factors have combined to limit venue options for MHSAA tournaments. Just one facility large enough to host the MHSAA boys Semifinals and Finals is available in 2019 and 2020. That’s MSU’s Breslin Center.

Many other basketball scheduling options have been studied during the past six months, including moving both tournaments a week earlier or later, separating the girls and boys tournaments by an additional week, or conducting both tournaments over the same three weeks with only the four championship games for each gender at MSU.

However, because 2019 is not a typical year for how the NCAA and MHSAA calendars relate to one another, (2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022 are typical), more innovative changes in formats and schedules made for 2019 would have needed adjustment again for 2020.

The decision to switch seasons and tournaments for one year only allows a test of the opinion that the transition from fall to winter sports might be better if boys basketball started before girls.

The decision also provides Calvin College the opportunity to host the girls Semifinals and Finals at least twice at Van Noord Arena, which has twice hosted NCAA Division III championships in both women’s basketball and women’s volleyball. Two years is our usual minimum; and tournaments almost always run more smoothly in the second year than in the first year at a venue. Van Noord is the largest NCAA Division III arena in the country.

In any event, more time is needed to further study and explain more innovative scheduling and tournament formats, and possibly gain better understanding and greater support for grander plans.

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.