Not In School Sports

June 5, 2015

When those involved in high-profile major college sports offer advice to us in lower profile but perhaps higher principled school sports, we can quickly lose our patience.
Why, for example, would we ever listen to scheduling suggestions for high school basketball from the higher level that schedules games every day of the week, at any time of the week, anywhere on this continent or another?
These behaviors in major college basketball describe an athletic program that is orphaned from the academic mission of the colleges and universities to which they increasingly have become disconnected. We can’t let that happen to school sports.
Major college athletics is in an “arms war” of escalating costs for extravagant facilities and exorbitant coaches’ salaries. Blinded by their own ballooning budgets, college folks’ foolish suggestions for more frequent and distant high school games would increase the operational costs in the athletic departments of struggling and sometimes bankrupt school districts. We can’t let that happen in school sports.
Only when major college sports gets its house in much better order will any of its people earn the slightest right to suggest new policies and procedures for school sports. For now, much of what we see in high-profile college sports shows us what we should not do, not what we should do, in high school sports.

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.