Look Out Below!

March 27, 2018

Here are the kinds of statements that should send chills down the spines of thoughtful leaders of school-based basketball:

  • From Maverick Carter, business manager for LeBron James and CEO of Springhill Entertainment: “... the system is broken at the base, the foundation of it, which is youth basketball ... And if youth basketball is broken, then that’s part of his (NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s) job, too, because those kids are quickly in his league.”
    “... the NCAA has these stupid-ass rules that are so archaic, so you have to fix that whole thing and figure out a way to do it. I own a piece of Liverpool football club, in European soccer, because clubs have a system all the way down to youth.”

  • From Michelle Roberts, NBA Players Association executive director: “... we need to go younger, and we’re now plotting ways to do that.”

  • From Draymond Green, formerly of Michigan State and now of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors: “You talk to the European guys who I’ve played with, and they’ve been making money since they were 15 years old ...”

  • From Michael Singer of the Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN: “... the NBA is indeed exploring avenues to connect with elite high school players and improve the developmental system ... Part of the NBA’s plan could hinge on working with elite prospects throughout high school, whether at tournaments or at summer camps.”

So, at minimum, this is what school-based sports can expect as a result of NBA and NCAA efforts to fix what’s broken in college basketball:

  1. Additional pressures on students to specialize in basketball year-round from a very early age.

  2. Further distraction from the masses of players toward elite players.

  3. An attack on amateur standing rules in school-based basketball.

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.