Tournament Scheduling

May 3, 2016

Scheduling of MHSAA tournaments in ways that minimize conflicts is a difficult task, made easier by following several principles, yet certain to be upsetting to some people.

Spring tournaments pose potential for more conflicts than fall or winter tournaments because of many school-year-ending activities that are important to students and parents – like graduations, proms, baccalaureates, honors banquets, open houses, etc.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association publishes a seven-year calendar of MHSAA tournament dates, first rounds through Finals, that provides schools and their constituents an early alert; and within most sports is a range of dates on which early round contests may be played so that hosts and participating schools can work out the best scheduling for the teams assigned to each site.

Those are two of the scheduling principles that guide the MHSAA – flexibility for the early rounds and firm dates set many years in advance for Finals.

Not only do these principles assist with avoiding all variety of local conflicts, they also assist with avoiding conflicts for students who participate in more than one sport during a single season. Schools can, and do, choose days and times that allow students to participate in the Districts of one sport tournament as well as the Finals of another. Not all conflicts are avoided, but most are.

Another principle that guides MHSAA scheduling is to minimize conflicts with the academic classroom day. While schools, students and parents often make choices that seem contrary to this principle, the MHSAA works harder to avoid academic conflicts than any other conflicts, including social or religious or ceremonial. This is, after all, educational athletics; and one of our core values is to support – not conflict with – the academic mission of member schools.

Not only does the MHSAA publicize its tournament dates seven years in advance, the MHSAA also identifies six to nine months in advance potential conflicts between MHSAA tournament dates and anticipated standardized testing dates, and publicizes the alternative dates for students to complete those tests.

The MHSAA is sponsoring nearly 2,000 tournaments during the 2015-16 school year. Some tournaments will conflict with other activities for some of the nearly 300,000 participants in those events – regretfully, but unavoidably and understandably.

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.