Let Life Teach

December 7, 2012

Here’s a golden nugget from Ann Arbor’s Dr. Dan Saferstein’s little book, Win or Lose:  A Guide to Sports Parenting:

“Most of us have an easier time being math parents than we do being sports parents.  We don’t stand over our children as they’re doing their homework, hollering at them to round to the highest decimal or carry their zero.  We trust that they’ll be able to figure things out on their own, and if they can’t, they’ll get the help they need from their teachers or by asking us.

“What a lot of sports parents seem to forget is that young athletes also need the same space to figure things out on their own.  They need to learn how to think and make decisions during game situations, which isn’t easy to do when your parent (or someone else’s parent) is shouting out directions.

“The reality is that if your child could score a goal or stop a defender, he would.  In most cases, telling your child to move faster to the ball is like telling him to be taller.  Effort isn’t the only critical factor in sports, or in math.  Some children will never be high-level athletes no matter how hard they try, which is by no means a tragedy.  The world doesn’t necessarily need more gymnastics, softball or soccer stars.  It needs more young people who are willing to try and make our world a better place.”

Go to dansaferstein.com for more good stuff from the good doctor.

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.