Weaving Policy

February 10, 2017

My wife weaves. She weaves scarves and placemats and napkins and table runners and rugs. And while she weaves, I watch, looking for the metaphors.

One of the most obvious comes from looking at both sides of her work. In its simplest form, one side of the woven project is the result of careful planning and preparation; the other side just sort of happens. In weaving, except for the "plain weave" where the bottom of the item mirrors the top, the underside of a weaving project is usually unimportant. 

In leadership, however, that's rarely the case. Leaders have to be concerned with two or more sides to most issues. They have to consider in advance both the seen and unseen aspects of the project.

So when people advocate for expansion or contraction of cooperative programs or football playoffs, or for tougher or more liberal transfer rules, or for more or different tournament classifications, or for seeding of tournaments, leaders of the Michigan High School Athletic Association need to look at both sides of any plan and the multiple angles of the issues raised.

This leadership will try to explain to proponents what opponents see in a proposal, and vice versa. This leadership will try to speak for and report to those who are underrepresented in the discussion.

This leadership is entitled to its own opinion but responsible for seeing that sincere and studied opinions of others are both well heard and thoroughly vetted.

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.