Guarding Secrets

January was a bad month for some sports heroes, but it was an instructional time for those who paused to connect some dots.

  • Two of Major League Baseball’s most prolific performers became eligible for baseball’s Hall of Fame, but we learned in January that neither came close to earning enough votes for election to that prestigious shrine.  Each has seen his star-power descend in a cloud of legal problems surrounding his suspected use of performance enhancing drugs.
  • After seven Tour de France titles and seven times seven denials of using performance enhancing drugs and various blood doping techniques, Lance Armstrong “came clean.” Sort of.
  • A Heisman Trophy candidate went from a broken-hearted soul mate to the victim of a cruel hoax to a contributor to the weirdest story college sports has witnessed.  From duped to duplicitous.
  • And all this with Penn State’s scandal still fresh in our minds.

How fatiguing it must be and, ultimately, how futile it is to try to keep secrets. That’s always been true; it’s just more obvious in a world where everyone’s access to social media renders investigative journalism too little and too late in uncovering the secrets that heroes harbor.

How any of these people ever thought they could guard their secrets beyond the grave would be beyond belief if it just didn’t keep happening so often.  There must be something we’re doing wrong in the upbringing of prominent athletes (like too many politicians) that makes them think they can get away with sordid secrets . . . that they’re too big to fail. 

The truth is, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.  No secret is beyond discovery.

Posted in: Perspective


Shelly Watkins
Friday, February 8, 2013 8:38 AM
Perfectly put and lessons abound.

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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.