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Our Place in the Sun

Today’s blog was written by MHSAA Website and Publications Coordinator Rob Kaminski

Millions of people across the country yesterday were mesmerized and fascinated by a once-in-a-lifetime show staged by the solar system: a total solar eclipse, which spanned the contiguous United States from Oregon to South Carolina. 

The “Great American Eclipse” (because everything needs a title these days) was preceded by countless hours of coverage to prep enthusiasts on a variety of topics: the best places in which to view “totality;” the timeframe in which the phenomenon would occur; the manner in which to view the orbs without damaging retinas; and, for the more scientifically inclined, detailed explanations as to the cause of the event.

It is somewhat ironic that this temporary traveling blackout began in the Pacific Northwest where people often yearn for even a glimpse of the sun over periods of time, and ended off the coast of South Carolina where residents have endured more than their share of weather disasters and a day of total sun would have been greatly preferred. At widespread locations in between, how many citizens beg for just a little more sunshine each day when the clock runs out on Daylight Saving Time? 

The attraction to Monday’s event, of course, was its rarity. Its peculiarity. Its deviation from the norm. The last time a total solar eclipse could be seen anywhere in the United States was 1979, and the last time it went coast to coast was 99 years ago. That was the hook. It was darkness’s day in the sun.

Another MHSAA football season kicks off around the state Friday just clear from the shadows of Monday’s historic, but fleeting, happening. The school sports spotlight shines brightest on fall Friday nights and has for decades, not only in Michigan, but also from shore to shore across the country. It is pep rallies and parades; pizza parlors and burger joints;  neighborhood caravans and tailgates; perhaps even a Friday cross country meet or volleyball match, all leading up to the football game, for many years the only game in town.

Now, as college football continues its attempt to upset the natural balance and create its own eclipse, it is our hope that high school fans from state to state will consider this movement a fleeting attention grab. It is our hope that the people who have fueled our product over the course of time will turn their heads and focus on the brightest Friday night stars in their own back yards.

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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.