Yin and Yang

November 15, 2016

The essential skill in the ancient yet still practiced art of paper cutting is to be able to make a single cut that will remove what is unwanted and retain what is needed. The Chinese phrase "yin and yang" captures the meaning ... that which is simultaneously disconnected and connected.

There is a similar art to leading modern day interscholastic athletics, where the top task is simultaneously to protect and promote school sports. Preventing what will damage the pure essence of the interscholastic brand while at the same time promoting the experience for players and spectators.

As the Michigan High School Athletic Association steps up efforts to promote attendance and enhance the spectator experience at local and statewide school-sponsored athletic events, the MHSAA must also be intentional to avoid or discard that which will poison the underlying educational purpose of the events.

As the National Federation of State High School Associations launches its #MyReasonWhy campaign, it must do the same. What we believe and what we do must remain connected.

Click here for more on #MyReasonWhy

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.