Prep Prose

January 27, 2017

Mick McCabe retired in December after almost five full decades at the Detroit Free Press.

When Mick agreed with me, he did so boldly. When he disagreed, he sometimes did so brutally. 

He was at his best, and did most for school sports in Michigan, when he told the stories of coaches and athletes in the cities, suburbs and small towns all across our state. Especially when he told the stories of those who would never coach or play a game beyond the high school level. Especially when he found and focused on an unknown person in a low-profile sport who raised our spirits by reminding us of how good educational athletics can be.

Mick may have written more words about high school sports in Michigan than any person ever. And that's saying a lot when one remembers Jack Moss and Bob Gross and Bob Becker and Jane Bos and Del Newell and Cindy Fairfield and a dozen other retired sports writers in our state whose substantial bodies of work promoted prep sports.

School sports usually has been well-served by such media professionals who were allowed by their industry to take the time necessary to know the people and the policies that served school sports, and were allowed  the space to develop stories that went beyond headlines, tweets and texts, with fuller facts and closer truth than is the norm today.

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.