See What You Say

July 31, 2012

Edward Morgan Forster is an English novelist who died as I was graduating as an English major at Dartmouth College in 1970.

Like many creative writers, E. M Forster traveled the world; and of his six novels (each of which was made into a film), it is A Passage to India, written in 1924, that was most popular.

He also wrote many short stories, plays, film scripts, essays, literary criticism, two biographies and even a libretto.  He was, to say the least, a prolific writer.

The secret of his productivity is probably the genius and tortured soul which drives so many great authors.  However, there is one quote from E. M. Forster that may be especially revealing.  He said:  “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”  He was a writer in order to be a better thinker.

I have neither genius nor a tortured soul; but what has driven me to write throughout my administrative career – and what has kept me blogging twice a week for three full years as of today – is that I cannot be sure what I know – or what I believe and will stand behind – until I can see it in writing and know that it will be read by others.  That’s when I begin to know what I really think.

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.