Investing in Kids

May 31, 2016

Tom Farrey, the journalist and author who now serves as executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, included this comment in his opening remarks at the “Project Play” Summit on May 17 in Washington, D.C.: “Invest in kids who aren’t your own.”

Upon hearing that, I thought this is precisely what coaches do ... the good ones anyway. They pour their lives into the lives of athletes. And in school sports, they do it not so much to improve students’ chances to be successful in an athletic contest as to be successful in life after competitive sports.

This is why the Michigan High School Athletic Association pours so many resources into coaches education. The MHSAA’s Coaches Advancement Program is delivered face to face anytime and anywhere schools, leagues or coaches associations can gather 20 or so learners.

For 2016-17, the MHSAA is offering every member junior high/middle school and senior high school $300 in free CAP training – six $20 vouchers and three $60 vouchers. Visit the CAP administrative page in July. (Users must be logged in as administrators to access the vouchers.)

Organized sports without trained coaches can do more lifetime harm than good. Coaches education, infused with the core values of educational athletics, is a necessity, not a luxury. And sports without purposefully trained coaches can be a liability.

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.