Small Steps

November 3, 2015

“You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” I believe it was former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George who said this when advocating for a big leap forward for his country during the early 20th century.

Indeed, taking two small jumps when one giant leap is necessary is an ill-fated strategy.

However, I have found that a series of smaller steps to solve large problems is very often the most practical and politically-expedient approach.

For example, as we have enhanced coaching requirements, especially related to health and safety, we didn’t insist that all of the changes occur simultaneously, or immediately. One thing at a time, phased in over several years, made these changes possible.

My MHSAA colleague Rob Kaminski, our webmaster and publications coordinator who is also an MHSAA registered football and basketball official, once remarked, “Not all football plays are designed to score touchdowns; some are just intended to move the ball forward or to set up a bigger play later.”

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.