A Different League

December 30, 2016

Less than two years after The Palace of Auburn Hills completed $40 million of improvements to an already magnificent facility, there is serious talk of bulldozing The Palace to the ground after the NBA's Pistons bolt for downtown Detroit, 

I once bought an IBM 360 mainframe computer for the Michigan High School Athletic Association office that was out of date within 12 months; and I felt terrible about it. But it was a modest amount and we did it with our own money. What is happening in Auburn Hills is, quite literally, in an entirely different league.

These developments may affect the MHSAA which has conducted one of its largest and most prestigious events – the Individual Wrestling Finals – at The Palace since 2002, and has a contract for this event through 2019. The tournament involves about 1,000 student-athletes each March. 

I confess that it is difficult for an organization grounded in never-changing values to react well to the ever- and fast-changing landscape created by professional sports and major college football and basketball in their insatiable pursuits of revenue. We must, of course, and very carefully; but it's maddening.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.