Valuable Volunteers

July 18, 2017

One of the most encouraging aspects of the job I have enjoyed for more than 30 years is what I see on display whenever I attend regular-season contests and Michigan High School Athletic Association tournaments. It's the many volunteers who make the events run smoothly.

From parking lot supervisors, to ticket sellers and ticket takers, to concession stand cooks and servers, to program sellers, to the dozens of people needed to time and measure and otherwise administer large meets in individual sports ... volunteers are the blood pulsing through the veins of school-sponsored sports events.

They work in numbers that amaze me; they work with consistency and longevity that humbles me. They show up years after their own children were participants. I can attend the same event several years in a row and see most of the same volunteers serving year after year. Serving with enthusiasm and with joy, and with no more compensation than a T-shirt, sandwich and soft drinks.

Appropriately, our trophies and medals go to the top-performing student-athletes. But my gratitude goes to these many behind-the-scenes adults.

Thanks for another great year.

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.