December 11, 2015

The MHSAA has taken some unjustified criticism about the last-minute cancellation or relocation of several boys basketball games scheduled for the University of Detroit-Mercy earlier this week.

Unjustified because we would have liked the event to have been successful for our schools involved and a venue (Calihan Hall) we use often for MHSAA events.

Unjustified because the failure to follow interstate sanctioning rules was not our fault.

Unjustified because those who were in charge failed to respond to several outreaches well in advance of the event that were intended to inform or remind the organizers to seek and obtain proper approvals.

Unjustified because those approvals are a required part of the sanctioning policies and procedures of the national organization to which we belong, and which applied as much to the out-of-state schools as to our own.

Unjustified because critics now blame the problem on travel distance restrictions, which was not the issue at all. The travel was well within the generous limitations that exist.

What was at issue was the requirement that interstate events that are sponsored or co-sponsored by entities other than member schools must have the prior approval of each of the state high school associations involved, as well as the approval of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). This flows from the original purpose of the NFHS which was to bring accountability to interstate events at the high school level operated by colleges and commercial organizations.

We expect our schools to follow established rules of their state association, and we try to model that expectation by following the rules that apply to the MHSAA within its national organization.

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.