Don’t Mention It

October 27, 2017

It has taken every ounce of personal and professional discipline during the past month to keep me from writing what I’ve been thinking since the world became aware of arrests and suspensions in and around major college athletic programs.

  • I won’t repeat that we have been outspokenly suspicious of the influence of apparel companies on amateur athletics in America.

  • I won’t repeat that we have been continuously critical of the travel team environment infecting sports for youth and adolescents.

  • I won’t repeat for the umpteenth time that the “arms race” in major college basketball and football is ultimately unsustainable, or at least indefensible under the banner of higher education.

  • I won’t repeat that, in an era of ubiquitous high-definition video, it is ridiculous to think college coaches must be onsite for the cesspool of spring and summer tournaments funded by apparel companies, and that it would save colleges huge sums of money if NCAA rules did not permit onsite evaluations at such times and places.

  • I won’t repeat that nationwide travel and national tournaments are bad for student-centered, school-sponsored sports.

  • I won’t repeat that the Michigan High School Athletic Association limitation on travel and prohibition of payments to high school coaches from any source but the school are good for school sports.

I won’t mention any of this.

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.