Software Development

August 8, 2014

In his book The Sports Gene, author David Epstein causes the reader to think about athletic performance as software more than hardware; and I believe this is even more important for us to consider in educational athletics.
In school sports, at least in most situations, we still believe that opportunity is for everybody, regardless of gene pool or body type. High school sports teams often have an eclectic mix-and-match look that defies each sport’s stereotype on other levels.
In school sports, coaches don’t select and sculpt the body type as much as welcome what comes to them and work to develop skills to overcome inherent shortcomings.
In school sports, we focus on the software more than the hardware on other levels as well.

We are concerned with character development more than physical development, on principles more than physiques. It’s the operating system we focus on, much more than the hardware.

We also judge success differently – more on intangibles than tangibles, more on heart and mind than trophies and medals.

    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.