October 27, 2015

We lost a treasure when Yogi Berra died last month at the age of 90.

I hope a lot of people attended his funeral. After all, it was Yogi who said, “Always go to other peoples’ funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

Yogi had an intriguing mind for math. It was he who told us to “Pair up in threes.” He informed us that “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” He said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” And, “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”

Yogi was a sage observer of everyday life. In fact, he told us “You can observe a lot just by watching.” He observed that “No one goes there nowadays, it’s too crowded.” And, “It gets late early.”

Of course, Yogi ought to have known a lot about baseball, a sport in which he excelled and enjoyed unprecedented and unduplicated success as catcher for 10 World Series championship teams. He was an 18-time All-Star; but with characteristic humility, Yogi confessed, “In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”

While wise about many things, Yogi wasn’t correct about everything. When he said, “It ain’t over til it’s over,” he was wrong. It ain’t ever going to be over for Yogi.

And yet, without Yogi, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

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.