Domestic Solutions

September 6, 2013

Kudzu was introduced to this continent in the late 1800s to control soil erosion in the southern United States. Now, this fast-growing Asian climbing vine is choking out all other vegetation. This seriously invasive species is growing at a rate faster than 150,000 acres each year in spite of millions of dollars spent to control it.

Asian carp were introduced to this continent one hundred years later, primarily for the purpose of cleaning commercial catfish ponds in Arkansas. They escaped into the Mississippi River and have proliferated, eating voraciously and growing to immense proportions. They now threaten the commercial fishing industry of the Great Lakes.

When we invite what appear to be relatively easy outside solutions to difficult internal problems, we invite more serious problems.

Whatever issues we face in school sports are best addressed by schools themselves using the resources at hand. No outside agent can be introduced to solve the problems we confront. No software is the silver bullet, and no sponsor provides the sustenance to keep educational athletics not only alive, but well.

It is up to us alone – administrators, coaches, officials. Using the natural resources right in front of us. Here and now.

I’d prefer to see the kudzu and carp when I travel in Asia, not America.

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.