The Long View

May 8, 2012

 “. . . when you start fretting the day-to-day, you lose track of the long view,” says the protagonist in Charles Frazier’s latest novel Nightwoods.

It’s easy to do.  Easy to get tied up in daily concerns and controversies that cloud our ability to concentrate on long-term goals and objectives and the big themes that should be apparent in our daily activities.

Day-to-day fretting causes heartburn for investors who ignore their long-term investment strategies and goals.  It sidetracks businesses which lose track of long-term goals for the sake of boosting a quarterly earnings report.  It affects politicians who, while keeping an eye on polls, take their eye off their principles.  It’s probably taking a toll on school administrators who feel compelled to improve students’ test scores more than to infuse students with a passion to be lifelong learners.

I’m aware of some in our work who are able to refocus on the long view by getting away from the daily grind; but I know others who find the best way to refocus on the meaning and purpose of our work is to go to an event.  Just be a spectator where you’re not on duty, not responsible for anything.  To observe the action and emotion and school/community spirit.  To see a coach counsel a dejected player.  To watch an official make a tough call with perfect mechanics and people skills.

The day-to-day fretting may not disappear, but it gets placed in a much better perspective.  The long view.

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.