Long-Term Investment

January 25, 2012

Many homes have just removed the decorations from their holiday trees and removed the bare, brittle tree from their house. This has caused me to reflect on a drive last fall through many miles of tree farms, observing some trees ready for harvest but many more trees that were many years away from cutting.

During that drive I thought about the character of those who had planted the trees.  This is not like many crops which are planted in spring and provide a return on the investment by fall.  One who plants trees knows the harvest is many years of growth and pruning away. That return on investment could be a decade or two of toil down the road.

As I questioned how these farmers could wait so long, I began to marvel at the optimistic, patient spirit they must have.  Their hope and persistence.  Their assurance that the time and money invested now will be rewarded later.

This humbling internal dialogue caused me to think of dedicated teachers, coaches and administrators who, metaphorically, are planting some trees and pruning others each and every school year, knowing they may never personally see the results.  But having confidence that, in time, there will be a return on the investment they and their communities have made in our young people.

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.