Thinking of Don Quixote

October 10, 2017

The athletic transfer problem is not confined to high schools alone. Recently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has had a work group studying the NCAA transfer rule for Division I institutions.

The problem has been of particular concern in Division I men’s basketball where more than 20 percent of scholarship players changed schools between last season and this.

The work group appeared to have narrowed its study to two options: Make every transfer student ineligible for one year; OR, Allow every transfer student immediate eligibility. And the second option seemed to have had the early momentum.

But last Wednesday, the work group announced that the proposal to grant immediate eligibility to transfer students who meet certain academic standards will not advance during the current NCAA legislative cycle. Two days later the report was corrected: there's still a chance for change by 2018-19.

Major college conference commissioners and NCAA leadership have surveyed the landscape. They see athletes arriving on their college campuses from an environment where, if they weren’t happy with a team, they changed teams.

Apparently, the non-school, travel team attitude is bigger than the NCAA may want to battle.

Yet here we are, thinking of how to wage war on athletic transfers in high schools.

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.