Tournament Divisions

May 26, 2017

The spring 2017 issue of benchmarks published by the Michigan High School Athletic Association examines tournament classification in this state and around the country [Click for this issue]. Editor Rob Kaminski anticipated this would be a breaking story in Michigan.

In late March, the MHSAA Representative Council approved a second 16-team playoff for Class D schools in 8-player football, starting this fall – 2017.

Then in early May the Council approved the move from four traditional classes (A, B, C, D) to four equal divisions (1, 2, 3, 4) in boys and girls basketball and girls volleyball, effective with the 2018-19 school year.

The growth in 8-player football schools (from 24 in 2011 to 60 today) predicated the football change, while an 18 percent decline in the Class D enrollment cap over the past decade (248 in 2007-08 to 203 in 2017-18) was making the change to equal divisions in basketball and volleyball more sensible each year.

The objection of smaller schools to the equal divisions format in these sports has diminished over time as the Class D enrollment range has shrunk. If the change to equal divisions had occurred for 2017-18, the change would be from a Class D maximum of 203 students to a Division 4 maximum of 216 in girls volleyball, 212 in girls basketball and just 208 in boys basketball.

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.