Predicting Success

March 1, 2016

Participation in high school sports, music and drama – the educational buffet provided by comprehensive, full-service high schools – did more to shape my character and chart my life journey than any factor other than my parents.

It is no wonder that this is so, for it is well-established that ...

  • Participation in school activities is a better predictor of success in later life than either standardized test scores or grade point average.

  • Participants in school activities have higher GPAs, lower dropout rates, better daily attendance and fewer discipline problems than non-participating students.

  • Participants in school athletics have higher GPAs and lower use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs during their seasons of competition than out of season.

We don’t know for sure if all this is cause and effect; but we do know there is a strong statistical correlation, and most parents prefer to have their children hanging out with these motivated, high-achieving young people.

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.