Inside Information

September 25, 2015

The source you choose selects your news.

If your source is Fox News, you will get different stories than from ABC, CBS and NBC, and different slants on the same stories.

If your source is publicly supported radio, the news stories will be different than on commercial radio stations; and if you choose Public Radio International, you will hear some topics that are much more frequently and deeply covered than by National Public Radio.

PRI is, for example, where I was following the crisis of refugees fleeing from Northern Africa to Europe long before that story became headlines for other news sources. Did you know, for example, that there are more displaced people in the world today than at any time except World War II?

Similarly, if I were to listen only to coaches of one sport or another, I’m likely to learn about issues that affect that sport, but not much about issues that affect other sports, or affect schools as a whole. Our sources must include input from all sports. 

Our sources must also include the perspective of principals who deal with academics more than athletics and who are as attentive to the essential needs of harassed, homeless, displaced and disabled students as they are to the athletic desires of gifted and talented students.

And our sources must include the even broader perspective of superintendents who are fighting for the financial life of their districts. Sometimes that means they are throwing open the doors of their schools and recruiting students from far and wide to replace the dwindling school age children of their local population.

Ours is an association of schools. Not an association of football coaches, or of all coaches. Ours is an association of schools whose directions are determined by blending top-down with in-the-trenches views.

From our vantage point at the Michigan High School Athletic Association we do not learn about everything happening in our state’s secondary schools. But from the myriad calls, emails and letters we receive and the many meetings we have with administrators, coaches, officials and students, we know much more than those who are on the outside looking in.

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.