What We Do

August 16, 2012

It is not infrequent that suggestions are made that the MHSAA do something it is not presently doing, the something being a project or problem that conforms to the special interest of the one making the suggestion. That person will usually be incredulous when we respond that the project or problem is beyond the authority of the MHSAA or beyond the capacity of the MHSAA’s resources. The criticism is at least implied that if the MHSAA really cared about kids, it would do this thing that is important to the critic.

So, how does the MHSAA decide what it will do?

  • The first criterion is to determine if the subject matter is a school district-wide concern or is sport-specific. If the former – like sexual harassment sensitivity training – then it is school districts’ responsibility to provide the service for all their faculty, including athletic personnel.  If the subject matter is sport-specific – like weight control in wrestling – then the MHSAA should consider the possibility that it is the organization uniquely positioned to assist by providing leadership and support services to its membership in this narrow area of athletic-related concern.
  • The second criterion is to determine if there are any other agencies, institutions or organizations better positioned or more capable to provide the service.  For example, the American Red Cross is already in place with programs and personnel to provide first aid, CPR and sports safety training to athletic personnel throughout Michigan.  So even though it is sports-related, it might create wasteful duplication for the MHSAA to start doing what the American Red Cross is fully capable of, prepared to do and already doing.

  • The third criterion for determining what the MHSAA will do is to ascertain what its member schools want the association to help with. Schools have asked for assistance in establishing a minimum rule for the eligibility of transfer students; therefore, the MHSAA has promulgated such a standard for local adoption.  But school districts have not asked for assistance in establishing rules regarding eligibility after tobacco and alcohol use or after allegations or convictions for crimes or misdemeanors; therefore, no MHSAA minimum standards exist.

The MHSAA provides services in the sports sub-set of issues with which schools must deal, and only after the MHSAA membership identifies the need and the MHSAA leadership prioritizes all of the identified needs and provides the resources necessary to address the needs of highest priority.

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.