January 20, 2015

I found it amazing that an important "test" match in cricket last month between India and Australia was scheduled for three days but could last five days, or might end after two. This flexible scheduling is just part of the game.
On one day of that match, Australia was able to bat all morning, declare a lunch break, and then keep batting most of the afternoon before India ever had an opportunity to go on offense. When they finally did, India was already behind 400 and something to zero.
It was equally intriguing to watch the fastest two of the 117 yachts entered in the 70th Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race finish the more than 628-nautical mile course within 48 minutes of each other, but 11 hours before the third place yacht. And, two days before the last of the 103 finishers. 
I decided that Australian sports fans must have a different definition of drama, a lot more patience for events of long duration, and much more tolerance for events of indefinite length than we do in the USA. Perhaps it is in the DNA of Australians to be patient ... for they are certainly among the most polite populations I've encountered.
Perhaps all of this is inherent in the character of a country that is almost as large as the USA’s first 48 states but has only seven percent of the USA’s population. In fact, China's population increases each year by more people than the total population of Australia ... which may have something to do with 36 people being killed during a human stampede in Shanghai this past New Year’s Eve.

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.