Seeking Serious Solutions

Too much time is being spent on season-ending tournaments, and too little time on the regular season, and practice, and making sports heathier, and promoting student engagement, and the role of sports in schools.

There are exceptions, of course.

  • The Michigan High School Athletic Association Soccer Committee is a rarity, expressing that there may be too much competition and not enough practice and rest in school-based soccer.
  • The MHSAA Competitive Cheer Committee is constantly looking for the right balance of athleticism and safety – a blend that will challenge the best and grow the sport among the rest.
  • The MHSAA Junior High/Middle School Committee is tackling large, tough topics and beginning to make culture-changing proposals to carry the brand of school sports to younger students.

These are examples of the conversations of which all school-based sports leaders must have much more.

Because our standing committees have often failed us and spent too much time on matters of too little consequence, the MHSAA has often resorted to special task forces or work groups to help get necessary things done.

  • This is how Michigan got ahead of the curve on the length of football practices and the amount of contact. A task force was appointed when the football coaches association and the MHSAA Football Committee were ineffective.
  • Years ago, it wasn’t a standing committee but a work group that brought us the eligibility advancement provision for overage 8th-graders.
  • That’s how cooperative programs came to our state.
  • That’s how we got coaches education started, and it’s how we extended coaches education to apply to more coaches on more topics.
  • This is how we are making progress now – a Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation, and a Work Group on the Transfer Rule.

We need more of this – small groups diving deeply into topics over multiple meetings. Educational athletics has significant problems that require serious solutions, and new strategies for seeking those solutions.

Posted in: Leadership


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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.