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The Definition

This question was posed to me by a colleague last fall: “How does your state association define education-based athletics and activities?”

My response was as follows: 

“Defining and defending educational athletics is one of the MHSAA’s four focus topics of 2016-17. We are striving to encourage and equip our core constituency to ‘blow their own horns’ about the values of school sports, the benefits of multi-sport participation and the meaning of success in educational athletics.

“To us, educational athletics is school-sponsored and student-centered, where the concern is for the whole child. It is local and inexpensive for both participants and spectators. It is amateur. It is inclusive, with as much potential to provide physical, mental and emotional lessons at the junior high/middle school level as the high school level, and in subvarsity programs as varsity programs, and in low profile sports as high profile sports.

“The programs are extracurricular: after the school day is when they should usually occur, and they are after academics in importance. They support the academic mission of schools.

“Educational athletics is not a right but a privilege available to students who meet the standards of eligibility and conduct established by the sponsoring school.”

I hope you agree.

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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.