Starting Five

December 6, 2016

The Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation which the Michigan High School Athletic Association appointed early in 2016 has identified its top five projects. They all encourage the MHSAA and its member schools to get in the game earlier.

The Task Force wants the MHSAA to:

  1. Partner with groups which are promoting diverse physical activity for youth, like the NFL’s “Play 60” and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan’s “Fuel Up” programs.

  2. Meet with groups which could influence more and better physical education in schools that would encourage more sport sampling by youth and increased literacy in basic athletic skills and movements.

  3. Prepare tools for administrators to use when interviewing coaches, conducting preseason meetings for coaches and encouraging coaches to “walk the talk” of promoting balanced, multi-sport participation by members of their school teams.

  4. Prepare for junior high/middle school and elementary school parents a “What Parents Should Know” guidebook with units created by medical personnel, high school and college athletes and coaches, educators and sports scientists.

  5. Prepare for junior high/middle school and elementary school parents a “Reality Check” video describing the costs of sports specialization and the facts about sports as a path to college tuition assistance.

Those who love and lead school sports cannot wait until kids (and their parents) reach high school before we start talking with them regarding the values of school-sponsored sports, the benefits of multi-sport participation, and the meaning of success in educational athletics.

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.