October 21, 2016

Turnover in local leadership is one of the biggest challenges facing all of youth sports, and it’s partly responsible for the disconnect between the policies of state or national sports organizations and the actual practices of local programs. It is beginning to occur almost as rapidly in school sports as non-school youth sports programs, eroding yet another advantage that school-sponsored programs have enjoyed over non-school programs (other examples being that participation in school sports has generally been less expensive for families, and school coaches more often have been trained educators).

Turnover not only challenges local schools, it causes, or at least contributes to, many of the challenges the Michigan High School Athletic Association faces – everything from administering the transfer rule to conducting District and Regional tournaments.

One of every seven MHSAA member high schools has an athletic director this year who has not served in that role for at least the past five years. Each of these 108 new ADs attended a required orientation program at the MHSAA office in late summer. We provide a follow-up program in November.

More than 80 athletic department administrative assistants or secretaries attended a session at the MHSAA office in September. MHSAA staff conducts a second session for this appreciative audience every March during the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association conference in Traverse City.

MHSAA Athletic Director In-Service programs are conducted at several league meetings during late summer and in conjunction with most MHSAA Update meetings across the state during September and October. Attendance will exceed 500 persons.

Given the increasing complexity of life and the effect on school sports, more needs to be done. Our next efforts may include quick electronic tutorials to help coaches, athletic directors, principals and superintendents keep abreast of what is most important in school-sponsored, student-centered sports.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.