Living With Change

December 1, 2017

One of the odd and irksome scenes I observe occurs when a relative newcomer to an enterprise lectures more seasoned veterans about change. About how change is all around us, and inevitable. About how we must embrace it and keep pace with it.

All that is true, of course; and no one knows more about that than the veteran being subjected to the newcomer’s condescension.

No one “gets it” better than those who have lived and worked through it. Short-timers can’t claim superiority on a subject they’ve only read or heard about.

Who has the deeper appreciation of change in our enterprise? The person who started working before the Internet, or after? Before social media, or after?

Who has keener knowledge of change in youth sports? The person in this work before, or after, the Amateur Athletic Union changed its focus from international competition and the Olympics to youth sports?

Who sees change more profoundly? The one who launched a career before the advent of commercially-driven sports specialization, or the one who has only seen the youth sports landscape as it exists today?

Who can better evaluate the shifting sands: newcomers or the ones who labored before colleges televised on any other day but Saturday and the pros televised on any other day but Sunday (and Thanksgiving)?

Where newcomers see things as they are, veterans can see things that have changed. They can be more aware of change, and more appreciative of its pros and cons. They didn’t merely inherit change, they lived it.

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.