Pivot Work

September 21, 2011

Consider the pivot move in basketball.  The player receives the ball, plants his or her foot and spins 90 to 180 degrees.  Without moving the pivot foot, the player turns from facing one direction to facing a different direction.  And with that new perspective, the player either passes the ball to a cutting teammate or dribble drives toward the goal.

If these are pivotal times in school sports – and I believe they are – we must, if we are to make the most of these times, remember the skills that many of us worked on when we played basketball and still often admire as effective when we watch basketball.  The pivot.

  • One foot firmly planted.  A foot that can’t be moved.  Our base.  Our fixed orientation.
  • Then the spin that changes our field of vision from one direction to another.
  • Then a sharp pass to a teammate, one who’s gotten a step on an opponent.
  • Or, if no teammate is open to receive our assist, a determined drive of our own toward the goal.

If these are pivotal times, and if we are to be the “pivotal generation,” this is the drill:  Fixed to our core beliefs, look around for new ideas and cutting edge partners to assist, and take it to the goal ourselves if we must.

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.