Participant Celebrations

March 13, 2012

I was born and raised in Wisconsin; and I hope that I’m forgiven for cheering for our Lions in all but two games each year – when they play the Green Bay Packers.  I just can’t shake that long loyalty.

I’m a lifelong Packer fan, one who was actually present when Don Chandler’s disputed field goal beat the Baltimore Colts (that’s right, Baltimore) on a day when running back Tom Matte was pressed into action as the Colts’ quarterback.

I was also present when Bart Starr followed Jerry Kramer’s block on the Cowboys’ Jethro Pugh to win the 1967 “Ice Bowl” in 17-below-zero weather in Green Bay.

For all these reasons and more, I’ve loved the “Lambeau Leap” which celebrates Packer touchdowns.

But, I don’t want such acts in high school sports.

The national high school rule makers have done a terrific job of controlling participant celebrations in high school sports.

      • After a tackle or quarterback sack, there’s no strutting or pointing in high school football.
      • After a touchdown, there’s no prancing or end zone dancing in high school football.

Pick any sport:  High school athletes will be the best behaved athletes on any level of the sport.  It’s one of our trademarks.  Our brand.  And something we can be proud of.

(We do have one participant conduct problem, but that’s for next time.)

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.