06

When Seasons Matter

There are people who want to fuss with Michigan High School Athletic Association tournament structures because, they say, they “want the regular season to mean something.” We need to guard against that thinking and such talk.

In school sports done right, the regular season always means something, even for a team which loses every game.

In school sports done right, practice means even more, because coaches and athletes interact in practice far more than games.

People who want to provide tournament postseason perks to teams which win more games than others are likely to reward the wrong things, like the teams that gathered transfers from other schools.

They are likely to miss the right things, like the teams that started slowly but improved over a truly meaningful season of practices and contests.

They are likely to miss the fact that some teams lost key players due to ineligibility or injury or gained them late in a season and where, in either case, team records are not a meaningful measure of the season.

Let’s not be fooled. Let’s not be trapped in the mindset of sport models that are more about business than education.

Gerrymandering postseason tournaments does more to undermine the integrity of the postseason than honor the regular season.

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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.