Fixing Things

October 6, 2011

Leaders of schools and school sports have rarely been asked to do more with less than is demanded of them today.  Their plight has brought back to my memory that many years ago, a pastor from North Carolina, Stephen M. Crotts, told this story – one that I’ve kept in my files, and in my heart, ever since.  He said:

I started my ministry in Charlotte County, Virginia.  And there was a deacon in the church there named Harvey Milton who ran a seed and feed store in Drakes Branch.  Harvey and his wife Margaret sort of adopted me and helped me along during those first tentative years of the ministry.

I remember one day after I’d been there nearly three years.  I was struggling with trying to do too much, trying to keep everybody happy, trying to fix all the hurts.

I stopped by to see Harvey at his business and found him hunched over the back door replacing a broken hinge.

“What are you doing?” I politely inquired.

“Well, Stephen,” Harvey intoned, “there are four kinds of broken things in this world.  There are those things that are broken that if you just leave them alone they’ll fix themselves.  Then there are those things that are broken that are none of my business.  It’s up to somebody else to fix it.  Then there are those things that are broken that only God can fix.  And finally, there are those things that are broken that can be fixed and it’s my job to do it.  And this door is one of them.  And that’s what I’m doing . . . fixing this door.”

Stephen finished by saying this:  “When urgent calls, opportunities, pressure, criticism and thoughts of all I could be doing come, those words help me sort my duty.”

Perhaps those words will help you too.

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.