Lockdown Logic

June 7, 2014

There recently were two fatal shootings within a single hour in the neighborhood of the MHSAA office; and for a couple hours, the killer evaded law enforcement authorities.

We locked the MHSAA’s doors and directed staff to remain in the office during the chase and capture. That evening on the local television news we learned the details of the day’s drama. And then sidebars to the main story developed, including criticism by parents who complained they were not alerted promptly enough when their children’s schools were locked down.

Several outraged parents complained that their school didn’t notify parents of the lockdown for a whole hour. Imagine that; that schools would worry first and foremost about students’ safety and only secondarily about notifying parents!

One local school administrator confided that before instant Internet communications, it was standard operating procedure to focus first on kids’ safety. Now, administrators worry about parents showing up at school and adding to the hazards.

There is almost intentional delay in notifying parents so they won’t be incited into rushing to school, risking their own safety and that of others, and complicating efforts of school personnel to protect children and of law enforcement personnel to pursue the bad guys.

Before the Internet age, hours could lapse before parents knew of unusual events near their children’s schools. Often the notice was put in writing and sent home with children at the end of the day. Now schools are criticized for even an hour’s delay, which might be just another of the growing list of unrealistic and unfair demands on our schools.

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.