Conduct Unbecoming

December 21, 2012

We had some of the most exciting games ever – and a couple of “instant classics” – but as I watched the MHSAA Football Finals at Ford Field in late November, I sensed a loss of something schools have successfully preserved until now.  It is this:

While first the NFL and then the NCAA have allowed showboating behavior on the field, high schools have not ... until recently, it seems.

At the high school level we have penalized sack dances and end zone prances ... until now, apparently.

I am so disappointed – embarrassed, really – that coaches and officials are allowing players to strut and point after touchdowns and tackles and to demonstratively wave their arms to signal incomplete passes.  Drawing attention to themselves.  Disrespecting opponents.

Such behavior has no place in educational athletics; and it’s time we address it. Before it’s so much a part of school sports culture that we cannot.

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.