The Character Network

March 6, 2015

“You can go other places to try to become a better athlete, but there’s no better place to become a better person than high school sports.”
There’s a hint of hyperbole in that statement, but it’s the sincere sentiments of one with an important dual perspective.
These are the words I heard spoken last month by Robert Rothberg, father of a high school senior who just completed her high school volleyball career. He is also chief executive officer of the NFHS Network that is producing thousands of high school events so family, friends and fans can follow their favorite local athletes, just like his daughter.
Like high school sports, the NFHS Network is for the masses, not merely the elite. Interscholastic athletics provides competition and character building opportunities for students of diverse sizes, shapes and skill levels; and the NFHS Network provides coverage that is just as diverse – from the local subvarsity and varsity level sponsored by schools of all types in all parts of almost all states, to many of the culminating state championship events.
To peek in on the network that focuses on character more than characters, go to

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.