Participation in Perspective

March 4, 2016

In school sports, we promote playing more than winning. 

  • We know that kids would rather play on a losing team than only sit and watch on a winning team.

  • We know that, more than winning, kids play for fun, friendships and fitness ... for the “Fs” more than the “Ws.”

But participation alone is not our goal in school sports. The goal is high participation with high standards.

Our mission is to increase participation and to raise standards, including standards of eligibility, conduct and care.

We know that as we raise such standards for participation, we tend to raise the value of participation for students, schools and society.

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.