Politics and Sports

April 3, 2012

The acrimonious, winner-take-all GOP presidential primary and a premature posturing for the general election campaigns in the fall caused Portland (OR)-based author Tom Krattenmaker to write in the March 26, 2012 USA Today:  “Many of us seem to engage in politics the same way we follow sports:  What strategy will it take for my team to stick it to the opponent . . . ?”

It saddens me to see that analogy.

If that’s the general opinion of sports in America, sports is failing its purposes, which at higher levels is to entertain the public, at lower levels is to provide for recreation and better health, and at our level is to help educate students.

If at all these levels, we do not find willing respect for excellent efforts and execution and graceful sportsmanship in winning and losing, leaders of sports on all levels are failing their principal duty.  If stick-it-to-them strategy is the prevailing theme of the enterprise of sports at any level, that enterprise is worthless, or worse.

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.