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The “Extra” Ingredient

Every meeting agenda of the Michigan High School Athletic Association Representative Council opens with the “Ten Basic Beliefs for Interscholastic Athletics in Michigan.” Here’s No. 1:

Interscholastic athletics were begun outside the school day and curriculum and remain there as voluntary, extracurricular programs in which qualifying students earn the privilege of participation.

There are those who prefer to substitute “co-curricular” for “extracurricular.” Their hearts are in the right place. They mean well; but they’re wrong.

Competitive interscholastic athletic programs can be educational without being part of the school’s curriculum. If sponsored by schools and conducted by schools, these programs must be a positive, educational experience. But these programs are outside the academic curriculum, and almost always outside the classroom day; and no student has the right to participate in these programs. It’s a privilege students earn by meeting standards of eligibility and conduct; and often these students have to compete to earn a spot on the team and playing time in contests.

Interscholastic athletic programs are important after-school activities that enrich the lives of participants. No student has the right to participate in these programs, but we are right to fight for the presentation of broad and deep interscholastic athletic programs in our schools.

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 44 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.