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The Other Mr. Forsythe

The modern world is quick to dismiss pioneers who paved our way, but it would be wrong to diminish the accomplishments of those who gave form and function to school-sponsored sports in Michigan.

It was a time when travel was arduous and communications were slow. A time when the fundamentals of sports we take for granted today were being determined. A time when the basic rules of competition and eligibility we have today were being developed.

No single person has done more than L. L. Forsythe to shape school sports in Michigan, and the nation. This is Lewis L. Forsythe, not Charles E. Forsythe, the first and longest-serving executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

In 1918-19 and again in 1923-24, L. L. Forsythe served as president of the MHSAA’s predecessor organization, the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Association, which operated from 1910 to 1924. He served on its board of control from 1921 to 1924.

When the MIAA gave way to the MHSAA in 1924, L. L. Forsythe was elected president of its Representative Council, and he served unpaid in that position for 18 consecutive years (1924 to 1942).

L. L. Forsythe served on the Executive Committee of the newly forming National Federation of State High School Associations from 1922 to 1940, and was the young national organization’s vice-president for 15 of those 18 years.

During these years, the MHSAA commenced state tournaments in seven sports and the National Federation ended national high school tournaments in all sports. Playing rules moved from a local hit-and-miss process to a national system that emphasized standardization and safety. Much that we do routinely now was a matter of first impression then.

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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 45 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 nine years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is chair of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation for 2018.

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.