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Planning Period

When I was a teacher, I cherished my planning period – that nearly 60 minutes of quiet time every day when, while most other teachers in our school were in class, I could pause to plan for the classroom duties ahead of me.

In a somewhat similar way, I have come to count on and enjoy three times of the year which serve as the major planning periods for my work at the Michigan High School Athletic Association. These three periods are the several weeks late each fall, winter and spring when other MHSAA staff are consumed with the administration of MHSAA tournaments.

I hate to distract these busy tournament directors as they handle countless communications with coaches, athletic directors, officials and local tournament managers. Instead, I look ahead to what is next for the MHSAA and how to frame subjects to help facilitate some progress.

During the recent planning period (aka, the MHSAA’s spring season tournaments in baseball, softball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and track & field), I was looking down the road and around the corner regarding these topics especially:

  • Basketball tournament scheduling, Finals sites and District seeding.
  • Alternative approaches to regulating transfers.
  • Tangible outcomes from the Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation.
  • Reenergized efforts to promote good sportsmanship.
  • Strategies to turn around declining football participation.
  • Continued expansion of services for junior high/middle school programs.
  • Next steps needed to improve participant health and safety.
  • Innovations for recruiting and retaining contest officials.
  • Guiding and governing participation by “special” student populations.
  • And always . . . how next (and every day) to better define and defend educational athletics.

These are the topics I hope to study, survey and discuss with my MHSAA colleagues and others during the next 10 months.

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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.