Sweating the Small Stuff - #1

May 29, 2018

I would prefer that the 51 organizations which make up the membership of the National Federation of State High School Associations would not waste another breath talking about the NFHS conducting national athletic events. But just about as frequently as U.S. presidential elections, the topic returns to NFHS meeting agendas.

About a third of NFHS member associations are somewhat in favor of national events, another third are strongly opposed, and a final third won’t offer an opinion until they are provided more details of what a national event would look like.

Most of this undecided group will reject anything that is in the nature of a national high school championship ... anything that would follow or extend seasons and diminish their own state high school championships. Most of this undecided group will reject anything involving team sports.

That has led to talk of a summertime track & field invitational event. Like dozens of other such events available to individual students without any time or expense for their schools.

Even then, there would be hours of debate about who would be invited and how, what specific track & field events would be contested, as well as when and where the event would be held. And who would pay. And what would be the fate of state associations’ existing policies which limit when, where and how much their member schools’ students may compete.

Even if the planners choose a path of least resistance for a national event, the devil will be found in the details.

While many will be busy sweating the small stuff, this association will focus on a more fundamental question: “How could the NFHS ever presume to conduct events that would cause some of its member high school associations’ schools and students and coaches to violate existing rules of their state associations?” 

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com 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.