February 13, 2018

There is a segment of those who are interested in public education who believe it is their privilege and responsibility to educate their children however and wherever they wish. Some parents believe they should be able to enroll their children anywhere, subsidized by taxpayers, and have immediate and full access to all the school’s programs and services.

This is a factor that helps to fuel transfers in school sports. But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Watching on the sidelines and wringing their hands are the parents of those students who are displaced from positions and playing time on school sports teams by those who have dropped into their programs after moves from other schools ... moves necessitated not by changes in parents’ employment or other imperatives, but by parents’ changing attitudes about their local school sports team.

Transfer rules are designed in part to protect those who are not unhappy, who are not dissatisfied with a coach or playing time or the offensive system the team is using, or are willing to work through issues and learn from them. Transfer rules are designed for those who have put in their time within a program and are anticipating their opportunity to play.

Within every chorus singing “Let him or her play,” there are many others humming a different tune.

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.