Family Time

August 29, 2014

When my wife and I were raising two sons who participated in high school wrestling, we had two hopes before each large wrestling meet in which they participated. First, that they wouldn’t get hurt; and second, that they would win their last match of the day.
We didn’t care if that last match was for 7th, 5th, 3rd or 1st place. The ride home was just a lot brighter when the last match was a victory. We always struggled for the right words when the last match of the day was a loss.
So my wife and I found it especially interesting to read an article about Jeff Daniels published Aug. 7 in the Lansing State Journal that included this excerpt:
Daniels attributes some of his family’s closeness to life in Chelsea and traveling around Michigan to play hockey.
“I’m a big fan of soccer, however, we went hockey and never looked back,” he said. “Ben was 8, and Luke was 5 when they started in hockey in Ann Arbor. All those 5:45 a.m.’s on Yost Arena ice on Saturday and Sunday. All the way through the end of high school.
“I tell parents now, it’s not whether the kid excelled, it’s not, ‘Why didn’t you shoot instead of pass, ‘You’ve got to work on your slap shot.’ It’s not that,” he said.
“It’s the drive there and the drive back. And you talk about anything else except about the game. And we believe that the time we spent doing that, and not focusing on pounding your kid to be better at the next game when he’s 12 damn years old, is one reason we’re so close as a family when the kids are in their 20s.”

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.