Silence is Golden

July 2, 2013

During the summer weeks, "From the Director" will bring to you some of our favorite entries from previous years. Today's blog first appeared Oct. 22, 2010.

A minor repair to a vocal cord forced me into 48 hours of silence recently.  I rather enjoyed it and, frankly, was a little sorry to see it end.

You see, when you can’t talk, you’re forced to listen; and when you can’t talk, you’re more inclined to think.  Not “think before you speak,” just think.

I’ll spare you the time spent counting my many blessings, as well as the time worrying about a few family matters. But I’ll share with you some thoughts I had about our common ground, that is, school-sponsored sports in Michigan.

I believe the future of school sports hangs in the balance of how we respond to the financial pressures local programs now experience.  It worries me that too many responses are putting local programs on a course that will fundamentally and forever knock school sports off the course of educational athletics.

  • We are mistaken if we believe a $225 participation fee to play JV tennis doesn’t change the nature of JV tennis.
  • We are mistaken if we believe that a competitive athletic program, with high emotion and risk of injury, can be administered by inexperienced or part-time athletic administrators without clerical and event supervision assistance.
  • We are mistaken if we believe that we can operate educational athletics without our coaches involved in ongoing education regarding the best practices of working with adolescents.

It isn’t educational athletics if the program does not promote broad and deep participation and does not have expert leadership and coaching.

 That is what I thought about.  And what I intend to speak about.

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.