Change for Worse

November 25, 2014

I recall a toaster that was handed down from my parents when my wife and I were first married and in need of everything. It was already an antique, but it worked just fine, popping nicely browned bread with efficiency.
Some years later, we handed that toaster down to another generation; and we have missed its iconic look and quick, quality performance. No toaster we’ve had since has matched that model.
Recently we purchased a new dishwasher to replace one that was at least 25 years old. The new appliance is advertised as more energy efficient, with the features now required by the government in order to be more environmentally friendly. But the fact is, it runs twice as long and works half as well, often requiring a second wash to adequately clean the dishes.
You would think these earlier disappointments would have taught us; but even more recently we purchased a new washer and new dryer . . . energy efficient, of course . . . with all the required environmental improvements included. But again, the washer runs twice as long as the model it replaced. The dryer does too, and the clothes remain damp after repeating the maximum drying time . . . twice.
All of which proves the point that change is not always good.
People who proclaim that the world is changing and that we must change too are not always on the higher ground. Change is as often bad as it is good; and change often needs to be confronted, and thwarted.
Much of the change that has come to our homes has not improved our daily lives. Much of the change that has come to our schools has not improved the quality of education our children receive. Much of the change that has come to school sports has done much to harm and little to help educational athletics.
We must ignore the hype and point out the pitfalls of the shiny new products and promotions. Saying “No” to change is sometimes the boldest and best leadership we can provide for school-sponsored sports.

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.