Our Times

November 11, 2011

It is in fashion to say that schools (and also school sports) are operating in a time of unprecedented austerity.  This is not true.  Not even close.

While it may be true that recent times in Michigan have seen a deeper and longer recession than most people have lived through before, it is not true that these are the worst times ever for school sports.

Imagine the austerity, and imagine yourself administering school sports during the Great Depression when unemployment was three times today’s rate.  Or during World War II when gasoline was rationed and MHSAA tournaments were cancelled.  Now those were tough times!

What may make us think at this moment that these current times are the worst times or are unique times is that these are our times, and we don’t yet see light shining at the end of the tunnel through which we’re traveling.

Because it affects us now and isn’t something we’re reading about in history, we tend to believe these times are somehow much worse and that today’s problems are somehow of such a different type that our programs are at greater risk than ever before.

It is possible, of course, that our reaction to these times will be unique and will make these times the worst ever.  In other words, it’s not the troubled times per se, but our reaction to them that might set these times apart from all others.

It is possible that we will chop and change school sports so much that we never get the program back on the course of truly school-sponsored, student-centered educational athletics – a brand of sports unique in the world.

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.