Simons Says

December 12, 2014

As an almost inveterate traveler – one who begins planning his next adventure to sweeten the sadness during the return trip of the current adventure – I took special note of and pleasure in this statement of Eric Simons in his book Darwin Slept Here:
“Optimism may be one of the biggest benefits of travel. When you spend all your time in a small area, trekking back and forth to work, getting all your news on the Internet, it’s easy to think the world is a lot worse off than it is. Then you get out in it, even for a short bit, and you get a summit view or find a friendly person who cares about nature just like you do, and then even when you go home, you remember: Hey, it’s not all bad. We’re really doing ok.”
When I see advertisements that promote travel as an escape, I cannot agree. For me, travel is a change from the daily routine, but it’s hardly an escape. In fact, I see more sights, hear more sounds, smell more scents and taste more flavors when I travel. I interact with countless more people – in airports, markets, parks, museums. But even moments of isolation – perhaps on a remote beach or trail – are somehow richer, more contemplative, when traveling.
It is not escape but engagement with new cultures and customs that travel causes; and it creates opportunities for personal reflection that routine obscures.
As Simons says, “Traveling connects us to the world and renews our capacity to wonder.”

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.