Considering the Unrepresented

November 22, 2011

When I interviewed for the job of MHSAA executive director in the spring of 1986, I was asked about my administrative philosophies and approaches to problem solving.  I don’t recall now all I said then, but I do clearly remember saying I would “err in favor of kids.”  I meant that, when a difficult situation presented an unclear choice, I would give the benefit of doubt to kids.

That was somewhat naïve, I suppose; but I still do bring that mindset to situations that appear to be a toss-up.

Over the years I’ve stumbled upon or consciously cultivated other lessons for myself, and I have shared some of them with my dedicated colleagues at the MHSAA.  Of many, here’s the first of six (the other five will be presented in subsequent blogs):  Consider those not in the room or not at the table.

When people propose a change in a rule, consider where they are coming from, and consider those who are not present who may have different circumstances, perspectives and needs.

If the proposal is from large schools, consider how it might affect small schools.  If from southern schools, how it might affect northern schools.  If from suburban schools, how it might affect urban or rural.  If from football coaches, how it might affect other sports; if from a winter sport, how it might affect fall or spring sports.

When people seek from the Executive Committee waiver of a particular rule on behalf of one student, ask how that waiver would affect those not present against whom this student would compete.

When someone seeks relief from a penalty, ask how that will affect those not present, including those who have received the penalty in the past or should receive the penalty in the future.

Considering those who are not in the room who may be affected by a proposal by those who are in the room has been a gift given to me by Keith Eldred of Williamston who served on the Representative Council over 25 years ending in 2008.

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.