Three New Winter Tournament Venues

February 16, 2018

It is an unusual season when there is one big change for the finals sites of Michigan High School Athletic Association tournaments. This winter there are three really significant changes.

The MHSAA Team Wrestling Tournament begins the first of at least a four-year run on Feb. 23 and 24, 2018, at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. This event was held at Central Michigan University the past two years.

The following weekend, the MHSAA Individual Wrestling Tournament moves to Ford Field in Detroit, and it has also moved to a condensed schedule – two days, rather than three (March 2 and 3, 2018). This will reduce school and spectator costs. The demise of The Palace of Auburn Hills after the relocation of the Detroit Pistons necessitated the MHSAA’s site change.

The MHSAA Girls Basketball Tournament Semifinals and Finals moves to Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, March 15-17, 2018. The previous host, Michigan State University’s Breslin Student Events Center, could not commit to the MHSAA’s dates because of schedule conflicts with the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament.

A single venue change is a challenge. Facilitating three major changes over four weeks will make this tournament season especially “interesting.” What is even more interesting is the long-term forecast.

These changes demonstrate how new forces are putting pressure on old relationships. College venues are available on fewer dates and for fewer years; and as they become less available, they also become more costly for high school tournaments. Expenses at commercial arenas are also escalating at more rapid rates than in the past.

Making or maintaining traditions for MHSAA tournaments over future seasons will be a continuing challenge.

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.