Better Business

June 10, 2016

Maybe someday corporations that are generating increasing revenue by wringing money out of a decreasingly active population will realize that it would be a better business plan to promote more physical activity among what has now become the majority of young people – those who are not frequently active.

I am encouraged that “someday” may be coming soon when the symbol of business – The Wall Street Journal – features an article on the dangers of sport specialization that is too early and intense. The article promotes the benefits of balanced participation among youth.

In the May 17 issue, author Ben Cohen wrote this about NBA MVP Stephen Curry:

“Curry is already the most popular NBA player among kids. His approval ratings these days are close to ice cream’s. There was once a time when children wanted to be like Michael Jordan. Now they want to be Curry. But following his example doesn’t mean they have to grow up as the best shooter who ever lived. It may be as simple as dabbling in other sports when they’re still young.

“That’s because Curry is also the poster child for a saner approach to youth athletics. In an age of hyper-specialization, Curry has reached the pinnacle of his sport by doing the exact opposite. He played basketball, but he also played some baseball, football, soccer and basically everything else in a sport buffet. What worked for Curry, experts say, could work for everyone.

“As sports scientists continue to study how elite athletes develop, many of them have come to the conclusion that early specialization is the wrong approach. In the last five years, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the International Olympic Committee have published research supporting the position that children should sample different sports, rather than picking one too early.

“They have found that specializing in one sport at a young age is unnecessary and may even be unhelpful. Early focus on one sport – and only one sport – can increase the risk of overuse injuries and raise the potential for burnout. It also robs impressionable athletes of a diversity of experiences that can benefit them as they develop both as athletes and adults. The final argument against specialization may be the most obvious of them all: It’s not as fun.”

There’s much more to what Cohen writes, and we have posted on our Health & Safety page. Here is the link.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on 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.