U.S. Soccer Gets a Red Card

March 9, 2012

My previous posting paid compliments to a non-school lacrosse organization which appears to share some of the same perspectives we have for young athletes.  Today I express an opposite opinion about U.S. Soccer which has created a “Development Academy” that has announced it is moving to a 10-month season beginning in the fall of 2012.

U.S. Soccer has declared that participants in the Development Academy are prohibited from playing on their local high school teams.  This has prompted criticism from high school coaches who in many parts of the country, including Michigan, will lose some of the more accomplished players to the Development Academy.

The academy’s design follows that of powerhouse soccer nations where, however, high school sports do not exist like they do in the United States, where high school students play on high school soccer teams during defined seasons of the year.

The design of the Development Academy and the exclusive participation that U.S. Soccer is promulgating violates the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, which requires national sport governing bodies to minimize conflicts with school and college programs.  I was involved in the preparation and passage of that law by the United States Congress; I know what it says and what it stands for.  U.S. Soccer is violating the spirit and specific language of the law.

The desire and drive of U.S. Soccer to have U.S. teams excel in international competition is admirable; but its violation of U.S. statutes in the process is deplorable.

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.