Making an Impact

September 11, 2012

Here’s a provocative statement by David Gergen, professor of public policy and director of the Center for Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a frequent political analyst for CNN:  “The nonprofits making the greatest impacts these days are entrepreneurial, adaptive, outward-looking, and sometimes a little messy.”

I like that, and I think using these four features or criteria to evaluate the MHSAA now and in the mid-range future would be good for those we serve.

  • Are we entrepreneurial?  How could we be more so?
  • Are we adaptive?  Are we flexible in how we do things?

  • Are we outward-looking?  Are we impacting school sports broadly and deeply?  Does the impact have staying power?  Are schools better because of what we do?  Are communities stronger for our doing it?

  • Are we sometimes a little messy?

I suspect that if we are the first three – entrepreneurial, adaptive and outward-looking – then messiness is a natural byproduct.  There will be starts and stops, failures before successes, changes.  There will be disagreements and compromises.

I suspect that we will have to tolerate a little more messiness if we are to move forward, even faster than we have, and if we are to have impact, even greater than we have.

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.