News Cycle is Downward Spiral

January 15, 2016

I’ve come to distrust most of what I read, hear and see in the news.

This is the result of reading, hearing and seeing reports about topics I know a lot about. When I read, hear and see how badly the facts are mangled and otherwise misrepresented by media reporting about my world, I figure the same must be true of news coverage of most everything else.

It is rare that coverage is factually accurate, fair and free of bias. I have to confess, this can be true of the complimentary stories about school sports; it is not only true of the critical stories.

The loss of long-form reporting by professional media who have spent many years with the topics and persons involved has affected all news reporting; but nowhere have the cuts been deeper than the always under-funded programs of lower profile, like media attention to school sports as compared to college and professional sports.

Into the void created by cutbacks in professional media coverage at the local level are newcomers with self-appointed titles and self-made websites and little relationship to the history of the topic, rationale for the rule or respect for people who gained authority by devoting lifetimes to that which the neophyte has discovered expertise overnight and without effort.

And now, fueled by social media, misinformation goes viral. Often without understanding of or accountability to facts. And usually with anonymity.

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.