A Map for Getting Lost

April 21, 2014

“It’s just another step in the wrong direction.”

That’s the brief response I’ve been giving to the frequent questions I’m receiving from people wanting to hear my opinion about unionizing college athletes.

When I’m pressed to elaborate, I provide these antecedents:

  • Establishing the “athletic scholarship” – allowing athlete performance or potential to replace financial need as the basis for grants in aid.
  • Removing intercollegiate coaches from the requirement that they be tenure track faculty members of the university.
  • Removing the budget for the intercollegiate athletic department from the overall budget of the university.
  • Splitting NCAA governance into divisions so that the more educationally-based programs of the smaller colleges could no longer keep the larger, educational-lost intercollegiate programs in check.

Certainly it has been the escalating and then exploding revenues of broadcast media that helped to ignite, or inflame the impact of, these developments over the past 50+ years.

Treating intercollegiate athletes as employees is a natural but still misguided next step on this road in the wrong direction. It provides a map to where interscholastic sports must not go.

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.