Leadership Impressions- #2 (Plugging Holes)

June 12, 2018

Almost every issue that affects youth is an issue that parents, politicians or the public is asking schools – and especially school sports – to solve.

Already consumed with efforts to promote participant health and safety in terms of heads, heat and hearts, our association is asked also to concentrate on mental health issues.

Having already addressed risks of tobacco, alcohol and performance-enhancing drugs, our association is asked also to campaign against opioid addiction.

State high school associations do not have the luxury to hire as many experienced people as they need to focus expertly on every topic that associations are asked to address.

The effect of this “person-power” shortage is to force the association’s executive director to be a utility player – an employee who can operate competently at many different positions, bringing time and prestige to the cause du jour.

Even the most forward thinking leader must be prepared to roll up sleeves and plug these holes in the team’s roster. This requires, again, that other staff be trusted to administer their assigned tasks without commanding the leader’s ongoing attention.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.