Hat Trick

July 31, 2017

When asked recently to identify the most important work of the Michigan High School Athletic Association at this particular time in the history of school sports in Michigan, I paused only briefly, because there is one initiative that scores a hat trick. It’s the MHSAA Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation.

  • It is a forum for helping us define and defend educational athletics.

  • It is helping us focus on the future of school sports – on the junior high/middle school level, and even younger athletes and their parents, where attitudes are being formed and decisions are being made.

  • It is helping us focus on THE most serious health and safety issue in all of youth sports, which is specialization in one sport that is too early, too intense and too prolonged, leading to overuse injuries that tend to cause a lifetime of chronic injuries and related health problems.

The Task Force has convened five times over 15 months. It is moving now from the phase of identifying issues and challenges to developing tools for administrators and coaches to promote the multi-sport experience for young people.

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.