Building Future Support

December 17, 2013

Most students would rather play sports than watch other people play.

This is obvious; but often we make both little decisions and large ones that seem to ignore this truth. More often than necessary we create more opportunities for watchers than we do for players.

Ultimately this leads to non-watchers because people – especially young people – tend to lose interest when they don’t play. We know this because, in school after school, we find that the best boosters – the most frequent and fervent spectators – are the students who participate on their school’s other teams.

It is also true that those who played sports when they were in school, and those whose children now play in school sports, are the people who will support schools most strongly in the future.

This too seems obvious, but still, many school districts all across this state and nation appear to make decisions like it has never occurred to them.

Every time we cut a kid from a high school team, we create critics of our programs – the student’s parents today and this student in the future. If the program has no room for a student today, why would we ever expect that student or his/her parents will support our programs tomorrow?

No-cut policies for all outdoor sports and larger squads for indoor sports – beginning at younger grade levels – will be among the policies of school districts which hope to retain school sports beyond the next generation or two.

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.