Sweating the Small Stuff - #1

I would prefer that the 51 organizations which make up the membership of the National Federation of State High School Associations would not waste another breath talking about the NFHS conducting national athletic events. But just about as frequently as US presidential elections, the topic returns to NFHS meeting agendas.

About a third of NFHS member associations are somewhat in favor of national events, another third are strongly opposed, and a final third won’t offer an opinion until they are provided more details of what a national event would look like.

Most of this undecided group will reject anything that is in the nature of a national high school championship . . . anything that would follow or extend seasons and diminish their own state high school championships. Most of this undecided group will reject anything involving team sports.

That has led to talk of a summertime track & field invitational event. Like dozens of other such events available to individual students without any time or expense for their schools.

Even then, there would be hours of debate about who would be invited and how, what specific track & field events would be contested, as well as when and where the event would be held. And who would pay. And what would be the fate of state associations’ existing policies which limit when, where and how much their member schools’ students may compete.

Even if the planners choose a path of least resistance for a national event, the devil will be found in the details.

While many will be busy sweating the small stuff, this association will focus on a more fundamental question: “How could the NFHS ever presume to conduct events that would cause some of its member high school associations’ schools and students and coaches to violate existing rules of their state associations?” 

Posted in: Tournaments, Travel


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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.