Go With It

April 30, 2012

One of my counterparts in another state asked me last week, “How do you do it?”  He meant, how do I find time to prepare two blog postings every week; and he also meant, how do I find topics for 104 postings each year; and he also meant, how do I go about the actual writing?

As for finding time, it’s no problem; because writing helps me think.  It helps me clarify and prioritize.  And going public with these thoughts helps me be more certain that I’m committed to the ideas.  For me, writing daily is as important as breathing deeply.

As for finding topics, it’s rarely a problem.  I find subject matter in what I read, what I hear and what I observe in everyday life and worldwide travel.  And I’ve discovered that the richest sources for writing about school sports are often found the furthest from school sports.

And as for the actual technique, I go about it this way:  I try to provide a plain circle, and then invite readers to color it however they wish, to use any shade they prefer, to color outside the lines if they think that’s most beneficial to their situation.

When we were children we were praised for coloring within the lines and utilizing the appropriate shades for sun, sky, grass and flowers.  These days I just want to provide a blank circle and ask, “What can you do with that?”  Not dictating what readers should do, but inviting readers to take an idea and do with it what they will where they live, work and play.

At least that’s what I want to do.

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.