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It’s About the Base

Former Southeast Conference Commissioner Roy Kramer, whom Michiganders like to claim as our own for his East Lansing High School and Central Michigan University coaching roots, seized the opportunity of an acceptance speech for an award he received recently from the Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation, College Football Hall of Fame and Knoxville Quarterback Club to deliver a sobering message regarding the game he loves so much – football.

His concerns were for the survival of football on college campuses “where their games will never be on television and will be played in front of less than 10,000 fans.” Which is the situation for 90 percent of the nation’s college football programs.

He also said, “I’m even more concerned about games on Friday night.” Mr. Kramer has been a long-time opponent of Friday night telecasts of college football games because they do poorly both at the gate and in television ratings, and they conflict with the tradition of approximately 6,000 high school football games played locally on Friday nights.

We Michiganders are sometimes criticized for our “conservative” views about the boundaries of a sensible scope for educational athletics. We come by this naturally, on the shoulders of people like Roy Kramer who, even after years in the glitz and glamour of elite college football, maintains his concern for more modest college programs as well as high school football.

It is this base of the game, not the few at the pinnacle, that is the future of a game under siege in dozens of courthouses and state houses across the US – and worse, a game being questioned in many thousands of homes where football was once the game of choice.

Posted in: Football

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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.