Locker Room Talk

November 4, 2016

I am greatly offended that politicians and pundits dragged sports into the trash pile of the 2016 presidential campaign. 

The vulgar, victimizing language we heard from a presidential candidate in a 10-year-old recording is NOT “locker room talk.” It is far worse than anything I ever heard in any locker room I was a part of as either player or coach. 

In fact, the expectation I had of school sports was that such talk would have caused coaches to disqualify the players involved or, if not, such talk would have caused administrators to dismiss the coaches in charge.

School sports locker rooms – like the fields, courts, pools, mats and other venues of play – are classrooms. While the volume may be turned up, in educational athletics, the content and vocabulary of the locker room must match the classroom. Anything less is unacceptable in the locker rooms of school-sponsored sports, and it ought to be unacceptable to the fans in the stands, people on the street and candidates for public office.

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.