September 28, 2012

In “the good ol’ days” order was kept, not just because people prayed in school or taught morality (if that’s possible), but because students understood there were consequences for breaking rules.  Practical consequences.  If you do this, that will happen.  Definitely.  And no fancy footwork by your folks or their lawyer would get you out of it.

It would have been unheard of for the parents of a boy or girl who was disciplined out of one school to petition the administration of another school to waive the transfer regulation to allow the youngster to participate in athletics immediately at that school, and then to engage an attorney and go to court when the second school performed its responsibility by saying “No, not for one semester.” 

This student could have learned a tremendous lesson for life:  you’ve got to live with the consequences for your actions. Instead, what the youngster learned was that if you don’t like the consequences of your actions, then sue.

I don’t think we do the MHSAA, schools, or – most importantly – our students any good if we keep bailing them out of the boat of consequences.

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.