Rethinking Spring

May 5, 2014

Those states that conduct high school softball in the fall of the year or conduct high school baseball during the summer months may be laughing at our attempts to force these summer games into the least hospitable season of all for school sports: spring.

After an extra-long winter, there has needed to be extra attention during early season baseball practices and games to assure that throwing arms have been brought gradually into condition for the rigors of a year that is likely to compress a full schedule of games into a shortened playing season.

While baseball pitchers continue to be protected during games by a rule that does not allow a student to pitch for two calendar days that follow the day when he pitched his 30th out, no other players are similarly restricted, nor are there any rules that apply to any players during practices, or to softball.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball recently reported an increase in elbow injuries among its players. Some commentators, both inside MLB and out, were quick to suggest that at least part of the blame is that pitchers are throwing harder than ever, doing so on a year-round basis, and starting at an earlier age.

It could be, then, that long winters are not such a bad thing, provided we’re patient when spring finally arrives, and use common sense for all players all season long, in both practices and games.

We look forward to the culmination of this year’s reluctant spring when the MHSAA hosts the Semifinals and Finals of both baseball and softball at a new venue, Michigan State University. Hope you’ll join us June 12-14.

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.