A Game Changer

July 9, 2012

In the year 2000, fewer than 300,000 books were published in the United States.  In 2010, more than a million were published.

This means that electronic media didn’t kill the book publishing industry, as some experts predicted.  Quite the opposite.  But electronic media surely changed the industry in several major ways, including:

  • It democricized the industry – made it cheaper and easier for almost all of us to publish whatever we want, whenever we want, even if only our family and closest friends might read it.
  • It dumbed down the industry.  With almost everybody able to produce almost anything, the average quality of published works has plummeted.

The importance of these book industry statistics to us is that they point to what can and does happen in other aspects of life, including school sports.  They provide evidence that sometimes what we think might crush us, only changes us.  Causes us to do things differently – cheaper, faster or better and, sometimes, all three at once.

Some of us in school sports may, sometimes, curse electronic media; but many of the changes they have brought us are positive.  Like officials registering online, receiving game assignments online and filing reports online.  Like schools rating officials online; and online rules meetings for coaches and officials.  Like schools scheduling games online, and spectators submitting scores online.  Like the ArbiterGame scheduling program the MHSAA is now providing all its member high schools free of charge.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.