07

Football Antics

The National Football League was sometimes criticized for being the “No Fun League” when it enforced rules that tended to discourage sack dances and end zone prances by its players. Recent relaxation of the NFL’s rules of decorum has brought a return of ridiculous behaviors.  

Not only are the behaviors immature, they are usually inappropriate for circumstances.  A defensive lineman whose team is trailing by three touchdowns celebrates a rare tackle for a loss by marching around and pounding his chest. A running back whose team is behind by four touchdowns draws attention to a first down by strutting and pointing toward the goal line. A player who scores a touchdown celebrates like he’s never reached the end zone before.

Such behavior is penalized at lower levels. Why is it that the oldest players are allowed to act most childishly?

Attending our high school football games – watching players hand the ball to the official rather than spike it to the ground and dance all around after scoring – has been refreshing. Watching players return to their team huddles without drawing attention to themselves has been reassuring.

Our games are teaching respect and civility and team spirit at a time when America is in desperate need of those values.

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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.