Health and Safety A, B, Cs

August 18, 2015

At a recent staff meeting I asked those who had attended the annual summer meeting of the National Federation of State High School Associations to report their most prominent impression. One person said, and the others agreed, that almost every session and every topic eventually turned to health and safety.

Indeed, that is the filter through which we determine priorities, the lens through which we view every problem, and the scale on which we weigh every decision ... now more than ever.

This mindset is not the result of epidemic dangers in school sports, but because the limitless reporting of isolated incidents has created the impression that school sports is dangerous.

In fact, these are the healthiest times ever to be a high school athlete. Never have we known more and done more to improve every aspect of the experience. Give me any letter of the alphabet, and I can give you a positive progress report: A – Acclimatization policies; B – Bat standards; C – CPR requirement ... and so on.

Often our impressive progress is used against us. Make an improvement and someone is sure to spout off: “See? It isn’t safe. We need to ban it or at least remove sports from schools.”

This is why we usually pair program improvements with promotions to re-emphasize the value and values of school sports for students, schools and society, and the impressive health and safety record of school-sponsored sports.

Click “Health & Safety” for a comprehensive review of what’s going on.

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.