Learning from Experience

November 5, 2013

Readers who frequent this space might assume (correctly) that I enjoy travel, especially so to places where I don’t speak the language, don’t know what’s in the food and can’t drink the water.

Back in the days when it was possible to travel in Europe on $5 a day, my wife and I honeymooned across that continent for a summer on slightly more than $6 daily, combined. Today we spend more than that for our morning coffee; but we enjoy the adventures no less or no more.

I suppose on some level we have been making up for the lack of diversity of our childhood homes in the Midwest and our nose-to-the-grindstone approach to high school. Neither one of us ever thought of study abroad, or had time for it, as we pursued good grades and gratified ourselves and others in school-related activities.

This is in sharp contrast to the foreign exchange student from Germany who spoke last month at the annual meeting of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel. His family has hosted two students from China and he is now being hosted by a family in the USA. The point he made was this:  He prefers to learn about life from experiences, not stereotypes.

And so do I. I just got to this realization later than this fine young man from a small town in Germany.

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.