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Living With Change

One of the odd and irksome scenes I observe occurs when a relative newcomer to an enterprise lectures more seasoned veterans about change. About how change is all around us, and inevitable. About how we must embrace it and keep pace with it.

All that is true, of course; and no one knows more about that than the veteran being subjected to the newcomer’s condescension.

No one “gets it” better than those who have lived and worked through it. Short-timers can’t claim superiority on a subject they’ve only read or heard about.

Who has the deeper appreciation of change in our enterprise? The person who started working before the Internet, or after? Before social media, or after?

Who has keener knowledge of change in youth sports? The person in this work before, or after, the Amateur Athletic Union changed its focus from international competition and the Olympics to youth sports?

Who sees change more profoundly? The one who launched a career before the advent of commercially-driven sports specialization, or the one who has only seen the youth sports landscape as it exists today?

Who can better evaluate the shifting sands: newcomers or the ones who labored before colleges televised on any other day but Saturday and the pros televised on any other day but Sunday (and Thanksgiving)?

Where newcomers see things as they are, veterans can see things that have changed. They can be more aware of change, and more appreciative of its pros and cons. They didn’t merely inherit change, they lived it.

Posted in: Perspective

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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.