Physical Literacy

April 26, 2016

Dr. Tony Moreno has been on the faculty of Eastern Michigan University since 2004, and he has worked with the Michigan High School Athletic Association coaches education program since 2000. He met recently with the MHSAA’s Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation. This paraphrases some of what he shared:

  1. Young people who do not learn physical literacy (learn how to solve movement problems), are less likely to be physically active and, therefore, less likely to be physically fit (and more ultimately costly to society).

  2. Specialization leads to silos of ability that hinder competence and confidence in other activities, and these deficits last a lifetime. Sports done right creates a culture of problem-solvers.

  3. Research is inconclusive if specialization is the path to the elite level of sports, but it is conclusive that specialization is the path to chronic, long-term negative effects.

  4. The root of today’s problems is the loss of physical education from schools. The result today is “privatized PE” available for the “haves” (not the “have-nots”). It’s a free market, capitalized experience for those able to pay for it; but it’s no longer just for country club sports, but all sports, and it’s even coming to football (7 on 7).

  5. Those who want to reintroduce multi-sport participation or return schools to the center of the youth sports experience must learn how to compete with non-school, commercial offerings for the hearts and minds of parents and coaches, which is where the “cash and control” of youth sports resides.

  6. To educate means “to draw out.” Our purpose in school sports is to draw out the hidden abilities in youth and help them build confidence and competence to become healthier problem-solvers. Specialization is an expensive health issue for society that balanced participation can help to mitigate.

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.