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Football's Status

Football has enjoyed a status within our schools that is unmatched by any other sport.

It attracts more participants than any other interscholastic sport.

Unlike many other sports (think especially of ice hockey, lacrosse and soccer), football began in the high school setting and was not imported from community programs.

And until the past decade, football has not had to cope with out-of-season programs run by non-school groups and commercial entities that are so troublesome – think especially of basketball, ice hockey, soccer and volleyball, but really all sports except football, until recent years.

The growth of 7-on-7 passing leagues and tournaments is the most obvious concern as commercial interests move in to profit from a mostly unregulated summer environment, as began to occur in basketball 30 years ago and has spread to many other sports since.

The Olympic movement has fueled some of this as national governing bodies have engineered programs for younger athletes in efforts to increase medal counts on which the US Olympic Committee bases funding.

The quixotic pursuit of college scholarships is another powerful stimulant; and while the NCAA could have banned its coaches from recruiting away from school venues, it has not done so; and non-school entities have begun to tailor their events toward convenient although costly recruiting venues.

We can expect these events to spread like an invasive species through football unless, learning from the past, the NCAA makes these events off-limits to its coaches, and/or organizations like ours across the country will not only regulate but also conduct programs during the summer.

Posted in: Football

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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.