Grateful for Guidance

November 27, 2015

I have heard, and I believe, that the most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. And my father certainly did, establishing a pattern for my own life that leads the list of things for which I’m most grateful during this Thanksgiving week.

Yes, Dad was the director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association for as long as I have been the director of the MHSAA, and I’m sure there’s a pattern there as well. But it was Dad’s devotion to Mom that provided the deeper impression and more lasting impact.

I’m also grateful for the way my father supported my athletic career. He was always present, but never overbearing. While his career as a multiple hall-of-fame athlete and coach might have earned him the right to critique my performances as an athlete, he never did. He would answer the questions I had, but never offer unsolicited opinions.

I’m very grateful for Dad’s solid, silent support; and I only wish that more parents today would take the approach my father did. I believe their kids would enjoy sports more ... as much as I did ... so much that it became my career.

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.