Members of the Same Team

April 2, 2013

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The Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) is a leader among our state’s high school coaches associations, as well as of its counterpart organizations for the sport of basketball across the US.

The MHSAA has partnered with BCAM in numerous ways, including the “Reaching Higher” program to help prepare high school student-athletes for the college experience and in the “Top Shooters” and clinic aspects of the “March Magic Hoopfest” which will return in 2014 after taking a year off due to facility conflicts at Michigan State University.

One of the longest MHSAA-BCAM partnerships has been the Basketball Officials and Coaches Communications Committee (BOCCC).  One of the committee members, Mitch Hubbard of Reading High School, offered these candid and insightful comments in BCAM’s March 2013 Monthly Report:

Look Through Someone Else’s Window

Look through someone else’s window was the name of our Sunday school lesson.  The entire lesson was about how we should stop and try to see things the way others do.

I sat through the class nodding my head in agreement.  I kept thinking of situations where if people would do this, many conflicts could be avoided.  If only people would look at both sides of things, then the world would be a better place.

I then thought about the relationships that I have had with officials for the last 27 years.  I have never stopped to think about what the official was thinking or what they might be going through.  I have never even cared much about their feelings or their life happenings.  It has always been about me, my team, and my situation.  I usually think that the “refs” are against me and my team.  How could they call that?  What are they looking at?  What have I ever done to him?  These are the thoughts that led to my usual obnoxious comments or statements.

This season I took on the position of athletic director.  Part of the job is to greet the officials and escort them back and forth to the locker room.  For the first time in my career, I have had good, honest, open conversations with guys that I have known for years.  I found out that these guys have families, careers, injuries, honors, and all kinds of day-to-day happenings.  Some live close by and some travel long distances to referee.  I was amazed as to just how much these guys were like me!

If only I had stopped and taken the time to have a normal conversation with these guys years before, my perception may have been different.  If I would “look through someone else’s window” and realize that officials are normal people, maybe some uncomfortable situations could have been avoided.  I suppose the same goes for officials.  If they would try to see things through the window of the coach, they might see more than a screaming madman.

Officials and coaches want the same thing.  They both love the sport and want to protect it.  We need to work together to improve and enhance the game.  Communication and relationships between officials and coaches is critical.  We need to stop and take the time to “look through someone else’s window” and appreciate them.

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.