Channeling Change

May 7, 2014

In the ubiquitous discourse about global warming and rising seas, one school of thought follows this thread: (1) global warming’s fundamental cause is beyond human behavior; but (2) changing human behaviors could slow the rate of warming; and (3) these changed behaviors would improve the environment and the quality of existence for all the globe’s life forms and therefore should be promoted even if they cannot affect the ultimate warming of the planet. 

Among those who admit to the inevitability that the planet will continue to warm regardless of humans’ best efforts are those who believe we should be planning for elevated sea levels now, not by working on ways to keep the rising waters out, but on innovative means of letting the water in.

With the Dutch, for example, among models, it is suggested that coastal communities begin today to build networks of canals that allow water to flow inland along planned routes that people can use and enjoy, and that the seawater be directed to places desperate for hydropower or where this seawater can be made free of unwanted species and fresh for human use and agriculture. 

Rather than building walls to keep the water out, build canals to let water in to be cleansed and used for our betterment.

This caused me to wonder if this kind of thinking would help us in school sports to reframe discussion on problems that seem too large for us to solve. Like the negative influence of non-school sports on interscholastic athletics and rules that limit out-of-season coaching of students by school coaches.

Out-of-season coaching is one of the focus topics for the MHSAA during the second half of 2014, and this image in response to global warming is one of several we may use to reframe discussion before we attempt to rewrite the rules. Are there ways to channel negative situations toward positive results . . . without the threat of introducing invasive species?

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.