Standards Promote Value

October 29, 2012

I can’t speak for every state, but it is probably true for most states, that (1) no school is required to provide a program of interscholastic activities – such are not curricular activities; and (2) participation in voluntary interscholastic competitive activities is a privilege offered to those who meet standards of eligibility and conduct of the school and standards of ability for the activity involved.

It is not a liability but an asset of competitive interscholastic activities that they are not co-curricular, but extracurricular – voluntary programs with extra standards, extra requirements, extra expectations.

We don’t need to sell the public on the value of participation; they desperately want their children to participate, and they will even sue us for the opportunity.  What we have to do is sell the public on the value of the standards we maintain for participation.

Much of the value of school activities results from the standards of school activities.  Many of the benefits of school activities accrue from the requirements of school activities.  Raise the bar, raise the value.  Lower the bar, lower the value.

Activities are much less capable of doing good things for kids and good things for schools and their communities where there are lower standards of eligibility and conduct.  It’s the difference between interscholastic and intramural, between tough and easy.  It is because schools have raised the bar for interscholastic activities that these programs have value to students, schools and communities.

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.