An Extraordinary Choice

May 11, 2018

A decade and a half ago when there was a vacancy on the staff of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, my colleague Randy Allen mentioned that I should take a look at an impressive young guy from southwest Michigan. A guy I had never met, or even heard of. A 29-year-old by the name of Mark Uyl.

I did take a look, and a second, and a third. Given his youth, I realized this might be the first person I would hire who not only would outlast me on the MHSAA staff, but who also would be both youthful enough and experienced enough to lead the MHSAA after me.

When, at the conclusion of the Representative Council’s spring meeting on Monday, MHSAA President Scott Grimes announced the selection of Mark Uyl to be the next MHSAA executive director, he said, “It was the easiest decision of the weekend.”

I consider the assembly of an outstanding MHSAA staff, and the swift succession of Mark Uyl to executive director, to be among the most significant contributions of my turn to lead the MHSAA.

Mark has the philosophy, people skills and practical knowledge of local school sports that made him the obvious choice. His connections and communication skills make him an extraordinary choice. He will do great things during his turn to lead this extraordinary organization.

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.