Tracking Transfers

August 16, 2016

The number of requests to waive rules by Michigan High School Athletic Association school administrators to the MHSAA Executive Committee during the 2015-16 school year dropped to the lowest total since the 2006-07 school year, and the percentage of approved requests exceeded 80 percent for the first time in decades.

Of 453 requests for waiver, 381 (84%) were approved during the Executive Committee’s 12 meetings from August 2015 through June 2016.

As always, requests to waive the transfer rule dominated. There were 291 requests, of which 224 were approved (77%). That’s the first time there were fewer than 300 transfer waiver requests since the 2006-07 school year.

Across the U.S., transfers persist as the most popular and prickly eligibility issue of school sports, especially in states with open enrollment/school of choice. While certainly a greater plague in more populated areas where several schools are often in close proximity, this problem knows no economic boundaries – students bounce from home to home in disadvantaged communities and wealthier parents leverage their advantages to buy homes where they desire their children to be schooled.

While still a very small percentage of all transfer students, high profile athletic-related transfers get headlines and, too often, their new teams grab trophies that elude schools which play by both the letter and the spirit of transfer rules.

Mishandling transfers is still the No. 1 cause of forfeitures in Michigan high school sports. Increasing mobility and the messiness of marital relations keep students on the move, and keep athletic administrators on their toes. Vetting all new students, and getting all information before the new student gets in a game, is a high priority of the full-time professional athletic administrator, and it’s not something many part-time ADs can do.

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.