Thinking Inside The Box

October 5, 2012

Praise is often heaped upon the innovative person who thinks “outside the box.”  But thinking “inside the box” is equally praiseworthy.

By this I mean doing the essentials better.  I mean remembering our first and fundamental reasons for being, and delivering the very finest services that support those purposes.

It is possible that by thinking outside the box, some organizations forget about their reasons for being; and in interscholastic athletics, we would be well served to think inside the box.

In sports we learn we must compete within the confines of end lines and sidelines.  Go beyond the boundary lines and you’re out of play, where you can’t score and can’t win.

If school sports will secure a victory for its future – meaning, school sports continue to be a tool for schools to reach and motivate young people in an educational setting – it will not occur from out of bounds.  It will occur because we stayed within prescribed boundaries:  local, amateur, educational, non-commercial, sportsmanlike and physically beneficial.

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.