What is Educational Athletics?

May 20, 2016

In an effort to be even better at something the Michigan High School Athletic Association already does well, MHSAA staff spent four hours with the leader of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, Bill Gaine, who is one of the nation’s most passionate advocates for teaching people what “educational athletics” means and how to actually educate students through school sports.

Here is how the MIAA answers the question: “What is educational athletics?”

  • Interscholastic athletic competition is an extension of the classroom and an educational activity that provides outstanding opportunities to teach life lessons.

  • Through participation in such programs, young people learn values and skills that help prepare them for the future.

  • Leadership, goalsetting, teamwork, decision making, perseverance, integrity, sacrifice, healthy competition and overcoming adversity are inherent in the interscholastic athletic framework and also support the academic mission of schools.

  • Student-athletes earn the privilege to participate by succeeding academically, and the resulting positive outcomes continue far beyond graduation.

  • These programs exist to prepare young men and women for the next level of life, not the next level of athletics.

  • Wins are achieved through athletics by developing successful athletes and teams, but more importantly, wins are achieved through the educational experience by developing successful and responsible students, leaders and community members.

  • The positive educational outcomes of interscholastic athletics do not happen by chance. They happen because teacher-coaches and school administration adopt an intentional and purposeful approach to the interscholastic athletic experience.

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.