Don’t Look Back

November 23, 2011

In August of 1986, at the end of the one week of overlap between the previous MHSAA executive director, Vern Norris, and the start of my tenure, I found an envelope on my desk from Mr. Norris that read:  “No words of advice.  Just make your decisions and don’t look back.”  That’s Lesson No. 5 of six in this series of blogs.

In our work, time is of the essence.  We don’t have the luxury of long deliberations.  The next game may be today; the next round of the tournament tomorrow.

In our work, staff is limited.  We don’t have subpoena power.  We have few staff spread thinly over many responsibilities.

In our work, because it’s in a competitive arena, people are sometimes disingenuous.  Some have personal agendas, impure motives sometimes. They care who wins and loses; we don’t.

And most people have miserable memories.  I’m skeptical that people recall well the details of events; and people are even worse when recalling details of conversations.

So, in our work, we make one more call and then, with good intentions and reliance on rules, we get on with the decision and try not to look back.

It’s hard to do, but a good deal healthier if we can.

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.