Inner Life

November 25, 2016

Good reading here from Jody Redman, Associate Director of the Minnesota State High School League:

“The goal of interscholastic and youth sports is not to prepare students for a college scholarship or some professional career. It just doesn’t happen that often.

“Seventy-eight percent of youth who play sport will quit by the age of 12 because it just isn’t fun anymore and 97 percent of the students who go on to play at the high school level will have a terminal experience when they graduate. They will no longer play organized sports as they have throughout their youth experience.

“So what’s the point? Why do we play?

“We play to develop students into people with sound moral character that will prepare them for a life that recognizes the humanity of others, that is rich with empathy and compassion and develops in them the moral courage to stand up for what is right. When we only focus on physical skills and accomplishments we don’t give them the skills that will help them over the course of their lifetime, skills that will make the world a better place. We give them very little that has any real inherent value.

“It is time to give sports back to the children who play them. To focus on the true purpose of sports in our children’s lives. For this to happen, we have to establish a clear path, one that defines purpose, promotes values that are important to students and their community and defines success beyond winning.

“When we define success by the holistic development of our children into moral adults of character and compassion, then sports will regain its proper place in our families, schools and communities and most importantly, for the children who play them.”

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.