We Must Do Better

July 16, 2012

Everybody is expressing opinions about the US Supreme Court’s various written opinions regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

However, my mind goes back to the heated debate the previous year, to a passage about this topic in a July 13, 2009 Businessweek column co-authored by Benjamin E. Sasse, US Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2007 until taking a teaching position at the University of Texas in Austin in 2009, and Kerry N. Weems, an independent consultant who previously served 28 years in federal government, most recently as the head of Medicare and Medicaid.

Sasse and Weems wrote:  “. . . passionate certainty that things are broken is not the same as dispassionate clarity about how to fix them.”  They were critical of people on both sides of the health care debate who were “still campaigning on the issue when what’s needed is a detailed conversation.”

What bothered Sasse and Weems on July 13, 2009, seven months into President Obama’s first term, has only gotten worse on July 13, 2012, four months prior to the next election.  Many are campaigning – on health care, as well as the economy, the environment, education and every other pressing issue of our times and our children’s times – but few are truly leading on those issues.

Borrowing from the title of Bill Bradley’s latest book, which he borrowed from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, "we can all do better."  In fact, we not only can, we must.  It’s a matter of will more than it is of wisdom.

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.