The Multi-Sport Difference

July 26, 2016

If there was ever a poster child for what it means to be a high school athlete, recent Williamston High School graduate Renee Sturm might be the person to feature. She has said and done exactly what we would hope.

In an era when increasing numbers of high school athletes are graduating midway through their senior year in order to get an early start with the college teams that have recruited them, Renee is a breath of fresh air.

After four years of volleyball and basketball at Williamston High School, Renee just hadn’t had enough of the high school sports experience. So she joined the school’s girls soccer team this past spring.

Now bound for Ferris State University where she is scheduled to play only basketball, Renee had this to say to the Lansing State Journal about why she decided to play soccer to conclude her high school sports career: “I wanted to do something different because playing different sports helps me grow ... I was just hoping to come in and play some.”

She didn’t seek to star, but to play ... to be a part of a different sport and team and group of teammates who would help her develop as an athlete and person.

The richest school sports experience is found in multi-sport participation, both starring and subbing, both losing and winning. That’s what best prepares young people for life.

I suspect this young lady is ready.

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.