Every Coach, Every Year

April 20, 2018

Fourteen years ago, the Michigan High School Athletic Association retooled its coaches education program and launched the Coaches Advancement Program. We charged MHSAA Assistant Director Kathy Westdorp to take CAP “anywhere, any time” ... to deliver this face-to-face coaches education anywhere and any time school districts or leagues or coaches associations gathered a sufficient number of coaches to attend. Kathy delivered. Kathy and a committed cadre of trained instructors/facilitators who give up many evenings and weekends to deliver in-person education.

We launched CAP with the slogan, “anywhere, any time.” But it’s time now for a second slogan ... “every coach, every year.”

It doesn’t have to be CAP, but it does have to be every year for every coach. A coaches education program that is organized and documented, research-based and relevant. Student-centered coaches education that goes well beyond Xs and Os.

We cannot define and defend educational athletics – we cannot deliver educational athletics – without this commitment to such education, every year for every coach.

In the wake of tragic events in Michigan that have received nationwide attention, it is not surprising or unmerited that our State and Federal lawmakers are busy with bills. Legislation is on the way, and much of it will focus on coaches ... including coaches among those who are mandated to report suspected sexual abuse and requiring specific training for coaches.

All of this screams for the need for coaches education ... for every coach, every year ... no matter how experienced or revered. In business, politics, entertainment and sports, it has often been the most experienced and respected persons who have acted the worst.

The need is for every coach, every year.

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.