Risky Business

May 19, 2015

At a time when efforts to promote student-athlete health and safety are more obviously than ever at the top of our daily to-do list, it may seem ill-advised to suggest that kids need more danger in their lives. But they do! And that’s the point of 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) by Penguin Books.
From mastering the perfect somersault (#3) to melting glass (#47), and from climbing a tree (#28) to walking home from school (#18), authors Gever Tulley and Julie Spiegler demonstrate two obvious but often overlooked points: (1) that most of us learn by doing; and (2) that a sterile, bubble-wrapped world teaches us less than one in which we are allowed to play with fire (#45).
After-school sports and activities provide safe and supervised danger. A place to learn new skills, meet different people, perform under pressure and test one’s limits. A supervised place to engage in life before going out in the less supervised real world.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.