Upon Further Review

November 6, 2015

Michigan was among the first dozen statewide high school associations in the U.S. to reduce the amount of contact during football practices. Since Michigan acted prior to the 2014 football season, the National Federation of State High School Associations has adopted recommendations, and all remaining state high school associations have adopted new restrictions.

The task force that acted early in Michigan to make the proposals that were supported by this state’s football coaches association and the MHSAA Representative Council wanted policies that could be clearly understood and easily enforced. The task force concluded that counting minutes of contact during a practice or a week was not the best approach.

Who would track the minutes for each and every player? Does the minute of contact count for a player who is only observing and not actually participating in the contact drill or scrimmage?

In limiting Michigan teams and players to one collision practice a day prior to the first game and two collision practices per week the rest of the season, the task force recommendation avoided the need to have coaches and administrators track and record the minutes of each and every player on each and every team each and every day and to determine what types of activities and what degree of involvement counted against 30- or 60- or 90-minute maximums.

It is anticipated that the MHSAA Football Committee will review in early 2016 what other states have done since the MHSAA acted in early 2014, but it is not assumed that changes are needed to existing practice policies. Further review may confirm earlier judgments about policies that are both protective of players and practical for coaches and administrators.

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.