The Languages of Sports

August 6, 2013

Our state is enriched by the cultural diversity which has resulted from decades of families relocating from other countries to Michigan for the opportunities available here.

Often the children in these families are conversant in English, but their parents are less so. This is why, for example, the Refugee Development Center in Lansing not only provides ESL classes for students but also for parents; and why the RDC provides interpreters to accompany parents to school events such as parent-teacher conferences. The RDC currently serves refugees from 28 different countries.

Becoming increasingly sensitized to these dynamics, the MHSAA has recently begun a long process of providing certain of its documents in other languages than English. We’re going to focus on those documents that we provide to schools which parents would want to read to learn about what is being described to or required of their children with respect to interscholastic athletic participation.

The first such documents are the two-page and four-page preparticipation physical examination forms. And the first languages chosen for the service are Spanish, which is the most common non-English language spoken in the United States, and Arabic, which acknowledges that Michigan is home to the largest Arabic-speaking population in the US.

You will find these documents here.

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.