Enhancing Public Health

August 29, 2017

Due to overuse injuries from sport specialization that is too early, too intense and too prolonged, youth may be increasingly susceptible to sports-related injuries; but school sports themselves have never been safer – for obvious reasons:

  • Equipment is the best it’s ever been.

  • Coaches have never been better trained in health and safety.

  • Practice and competition rules have never been more safety conscious.

  • Officials have never had more authority to penalize unsafe play.

  • Medical care and insurance has never been as available as it is today.

Our objective is not merely to keep making school-sponsored sports safer and safer year after year. In school sports – educational athletics – we also have the objective that students learn habits of a healthy lifestyle they can carry into adulthood.

In this way, school sports mitigates some of the damage of youth sports and contributes to the general good, to improved public health in America.

All that we do has that goal, and it’s a finish line we have not yet crossed.

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.