Out-Punting Our Coverage

March 19, 2013

Any traveler to the Atlantic coast of any Central American country will witness firsthand the arrogance of the human race.

Strewn along almost every shore is the waste of nations outliving their means.  Plastic in all shapes and colors, from products of all types – bottles, toys, sandals, tools.

Island nations to the east, unable to cope with the volume of their waste, cast it off covertly under cover of night.  Oceangoing vessels large and small heave it overboard.

My wife puts it this way:  “We’ve gotten ahead of ourselves.”  Humans have fantastic abilities to create, but we do so without conscience, without caring enough about consequences.

This clearly applies to the world’s waste problem – from cast-off containers to used cars to computers made obsolete in a matter of months.  We keep producing more and more, without plans for the waste of producing new products or the waste created by making existing things obsolete.

In the Pacific Ocean, a mass of trash the size of Texas is circulating as if there were a drain.  But there isn’t one.  No easy answer to flush human waste – the excrement of our greed – to some other place where it will do no harm.

In Chinese cities today the air, water and land are toxic – much as it was in developing US cities around 1900 – as China takes its turn to poison its people in the name of progress.

That we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it.  In sports terms, the human race has out-punted its coverage, and the consequences are far more dire than a punt return for a touchdown.

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.