How Much is Too Much?

April 26, 2013

Everybody acknowledges it’s a different world today, that school sports are not the only game in town anymore. Many people also recognize that well-intentioned rules to curb excesses and abuses in school sports not only do that, but also tend to drive student-athletes to non-school coaches and programs.

Every other year or two for the past dozen years or more there has been a tweaking of rules – nothing radical – addressing what can occur out of season between school coaches and their student-athletes.

We’ve been slow to change, worrying that if we go too far too fast, we might change too much of what shouldn’t change and never be able to change it back.

This is a difficult and defining topic we must keep before us.  How much activity we allow out of season, or don’t allow, affects the nature of educational athletics in Michigan.  Both our actions to date, as well as our inactions, have already shaped our scene, for better or worse; and both will continue to do so.

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.