Opportunity Lost

October 25, 2013

This fall as I conducted Update meetings around our state, I met one-on-one with potential candidates for an administrative position the MHSAA has posted in anticipation of Assistant Director Randy Allen’s retirement in early 2014.

This is a part of the slow, personal process we have cultivated during the past 20 years that I credit for gathering our current collection of committed administrators that are excellent in so many ways and a pleasure to work with day-in and day-out.

We last used this process a decade ago in leading us to hire Assistant Directors Mark Uyl and Kathy Westdorp; and realizing that I had not conducted a series of one-on-one discussions in ten years, I have been lamenting great opportunities lost; for these conversations are beneficial in two important ways:

  • First, we learn about the lives of many terrific men and women; and I’m forever closer to them as human beings, whether or not they get the job the MHSAA has open.
  • Second, we learn of the hopes and fears these experienced people have for educational athletics; and I’m constantly putting their ideas into action at the MHSAA, whether or not they are ever employed at the MHSAA.

But I now lament a huge opportunity lost. Had I taken the time to visit with a colleague after every Update meeting I’ve conducted over the past 28 years, that would have provided more than 200 opportunities to learn about the lives and ideas of these people – the MHSAA’s richest resource.

I read recently that a vibrant organization is one that is always hiring, whether or not there is a job opening. That is, the organization is always interviewing its best people – always learning about them and from them, and is able to tap this resource promptly when opportunities arise.

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.