Who’s the Customer?

February 18, 2014

“If you ask your board, ‘who are your customers?’, you are likely to hear a lot of comments and no consensus.” That’s what I heard a speaker say to a group of association leaders last summer; and it has set me on a course of asking different groups this question: “Who is/are the MHSAA’s customers?” We allow respondents to allocate up to 100 points so they can give weight to their responses. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

The board of directors of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) rated athletic directors as the top customer of the MHSAA (by a wide margin), followed in order by student-athletes, coaches and officials.

By an even wider margin, the MHSAA Student Advisory Council named student-athletes as the MHSAA’s top customer, followed by athletic directors and coaches tying for a distant second, and officials an even more distant fourth.

And the MHSAA’s governing body, the Representative Council, agreed that student-athletes are the top customer. Athletic directors were second, coaches third and officials fourth.

I suppose that when we ask audiences of coaches or officials or principals or others who they believe is or are the MHSAA’s customer(s), there will be some variation in the order of things. But I think we can already discern a comfortable pattern so far: everyone puts a premium on student-athletes. And that’s as it should be.

The MHSAA is unique among the state’s educational groups – we’re not an association of school boards only, or superintendents only, or principals only, or athletic directors or coaches or any other single group. We’re an association of schools, undertaking to represent all those groups and student-athletes themselves.

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.