The Social Setting

March 18, 2014

One week last month our local Big Ten head men’s basketball coach blasted Twitter. The following week Iowa’s head coach, arguably the coach with the league’s worst sideline decorum (and that’s saying a lot for a league that’s allowed its coaches to get out of control) said his players are henceforth barred from tweeting.

Between these headlines was one of more significance: Facebook announced that it would be paying $19 billion to purchase WhatsApp. Which means social media is here to stay. And everybody, including big time basketball coaches, needs to deal with it in better ways than merely blasting it and/or barring it.

What it means for an organization like mine is that everything we do needs to be considered in all the usual goals, objectives and strategies progressions, and that at least one progression must have social media as an outcome and almost all progressions must have social media as a tactic.

Just over a decade ago we realized that almost every task we have has an information technology component. We discovered we needed our IT staff in the room when new projects or protocols were being considered, when new policies were being developed, and when all sorts of problems were being addressed. Fail to involve IT personnel soon enough or at all, we learned, and failure of the enterprise was assured.

We are at the same point today with social media. If we neglect the social media component – fail to consider how to use it to the advantage of the project or fail to consider how adverse social media could doom the project – we operate with at least one hand tied behind our back.

Just as the IT staff have needed to be consulted, and listened to, in order for the enterprise to reach its potential, so must our social media staff have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion of anything of consequence we might think we should do.

This is as true for nonprofit organizations as it is for profit, for small organizations and large, both private and public.

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.