Where are the Adults?

February 2, 2016

According to Jim Tucker, a certified financial planner and National Football League Players Association registered player financial advisor, writing for the Jan. 11-17 issue of Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal: “... university presidents, trustees and athletic directors are failing at their job of upholding the ethical standards of their universities.” They exploit, rather than educate, the so-called “student-athlete.”

He asks the right questions: “Where are the adults at our colleges and universities? Where are the adults to say no to football games on a day other than Saturday? Where are the adults to say no to athletic conferences that crisscross the country? Or adults to say no to a 35-plus-game college basketball season with excessive travel and missed class time?”

Behind the glitz and glamor of major college athletics is a program without, it appears, any rudder but the pursuit of more revenue, and less and less relationship to the educational mission of the sponsoring institutions.

I wouldn’t care about this. Except that the best predictor of what may go wrong in school sports is a look at what already has gone awry in college sports.

Those who pressure school sports to copy the college or AAU model miss the lessons that are all around us. We do not have to make the same mistakes.

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.