November 8, 2011

Several seasons ago, University of Florida Men’s Basketball Coach Billy Donovan was asked what, after a necessary amount of player talent, is the key to a successful season.  Coach Donovan responded:  “Resiliency.”

Building on that, Harvey Gratsky, publisher of Association Convention and Facilities magazine, wrote:  “Resilience, flexibility, persistence and the wisdom to take lessons learned and apply them are all characteristics of successful people.”

Mr. Gratsky continued with broadened remarks:  “Resilient associations that dig deep and find ways to leverage the new normal have been rewarded.”  He added, these organizations show “a real sense of urgency to reinvigorate . . .”

This publisher was addressing associations and the convention business that depends on healthy, vibrant associations; but he could have been describing the MHSAA these past three years.  For even before the recession’s effects on associations generally, the MHSAA was dealing with a potentially lethal fee judgment in the sports seasons litigation.

But in what could have been our bleakest years, we’ve had our best.  We accelerated our learning and expanded our services.  Expenses went down and revenues went up, without increasing our basic tournament ticket prices.

We were resilient and felt urgency to reinvigorate our operations and programs; and we’ve been rewarded with the best three years in the organization’s financial history, poised now to serve our constituents in unprecedented ways.

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.