September 9, 2014

Sometimes leadership looks at questions as a challenge to its authority, or as a way to obstruct progress. Both can be true.

But a better way to view a good question is as a valuable gift. It can provide an opportunity to learn, to consider details that hadn’t been addressed or alternatives that hadn’t been raised.

And a better way to look at a leader than the one with all the answers is to view the leader as a collector of questions.

The quality of those questions can have a direct relationship on the quality of ideas and initiatives that form, and a direct effect on programs and services that follow.

During August and September, MHSAA Associate Director Tom Rashid has been meeting with athletic administrators at their league meetings. Among several objectives has been to ask these front line administrators to think about some new approaches to some old topics – like out-of-season coaching limitations and policies and programs for junior high/middle school students. He has been asking questions, and then he’s been listening to questions, both of which are preparing us for more in-depth discussions on these topics throughout the remainder of the 2014-15 school year.

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.