Is a Future Possible?

July 16, 2013

During the summer weeks, "From the Director" will bring to you some of our favorite entries from previous years. Today's blog first appeared Sept. 20, 2011. 

While interviewing candidates for a staff position, we posed the question: “What will school sports look like a generation from now?” And we followed up with: “What will the MHSAA need to do to be of relevant service in that future?”

In a follow-up interview with one of the leading candidates, when I invited questions, that candidate turned the tables and asked me what I thought school sports and the MHSAA would look like in 10 or 20 years.

These exchanges, and all that has been changing as school districts chop away at school budgets and programs, has me wondering if a future is possible for school sports. But the answer is almost certainly “Yes.”

School sports have survived two World Wars, the Korean War and Vietnam, as well as the Great Depression and multiple recessions. School sports has existed before and after interstates and the Internet, before and after suburban sprawl and space exploration, before and after television and Twitter, before and after . . . well, you get the point.

Will school sports change? Certainly. But if history is a good indicator, it will change more slowly than the society around it. And many people will cherish that gap.

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.