Family Practice

September 21, 2011

During my first winter on the job with the MHSAA I took my 4th-grade son to his first basketball practice, and I watched uncomfortably when his coach directed him to set a pick.  My son didn’t have a clue what that meant, and was embarrassed; and I felt like a complete and utter failure as a sports dad.

During the drive home, my son asked me what the coach meant when he said “set a pick and then roll to the basket.”

So when we arrived home, I recruited his mom to guard my son as he dribbled the basketball in the living room, pretending the basket was over the fireplace hearth.  I came up behind her and blocked her path as my son dribbled by, opening his path to the “basket.”

We repeated the drill, but this time his mom was wiser and scooted by me to guard my son; and when she did so, I rolled toward the “basket” and called for the ball.  My son offered a perfect pass as I moved unguarded toward the goal.

We repeated the plays with me dribbling and my son setting the pick on his mom, and then rolling toward the goal.

Pick and roll, family style.

And my son couldn’t wait for the next practice.

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.