The Work I Want

December 22, 2015

I am long past the point of working because I have to. I work because I want to.

  • Because I’m lucky to work with co-workers I enjoy and a board I care about and whose members care about me.
  • Because I’m blessed to have work with a mission beyond the bottom line;
  • Because I see needs that I feel qualified to fill very well;
  • And, I’m equally certain, because I have needs that this work fulfills.

On some days or for some tasks, my passion is not great; but on most days and for most responsibilities I have, my passion is as great as ever. And it has never been greater for what I care about most. And that is to hold school sports accountable to ...

  • Pursue programs, policies and procedures that emphasize local opportunities for large numbers of students in a healthy, respectful, educational environment; and
  • Resist pressures to copy the elitism and commercialism of non-school programs.

There are more than enough people advocating that “anything goes.” My voice argues, “Not so fast.” I would much rather see school sports tackle a half-dozen difficult health and safety issues than spend a half-minute debating national travel and tournaments. The former needs all the passion we can generate; the latter has nothing whatsoever to do with the moral imperatives of school sports, and wastes our precious time.

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.