Why We Do What We Do

March 24, 2017

The vast majority of daily activities of Michigan High School Athletic Association staff revolve around communicating the meaning of educational athletics. That’s why we do most of what we do.

That’s the No. 1 duty of John Johnson in all things broadcasting for the MHSAA. It’s the No. 1 duty of Geoff Kimmerly in managing the MHSAA’s Second Half website with hundreds of positive stories about kids, coaches, officials and administrators. It’s the No. 1 duty of Rob Kaminski in managing MHSAA.com, in producing souvenir programs for MHSAA tournaments and publishing benchmarks magazine.

Communicating the meaning of educational athletics is the No. 1 reason I post 104 blogs every year. It’s the “why” of our Scholar-Athlete program, of the Student Advisory Council, of the Battle of the Fans, of our social media presence, of our Captains Clinics and Sportsmanship Summits, of the Coaches Advancement Program, Athletic Director In-Service programs and both MHSAA.tv and the NFHS Network.

When we conduct MHSAA tournaments, two things happen: (1) kids and coaches get an opportunity to shine; and (2) we get the opportunity to tell the story of school sports.

When we enforce rules, two things happen: (1) we pursue fairness and safety in competition in that case particularly; and (2) we promote the principles of educational athletics generally.

The job we have is event management, and it’s eligibility management; but most of all, the job is message management.

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.