Leadership Impressions- #2 (Plugging Holes)

Almost every issue that affects youth is an issue that parents, politicians or the public is asking schools – and especially school sports – to solve.

Already consumed with efforts to promote participant health and safety in terms of heads, heat and hearts, our association is asked also to concentrate on mental health issues.

Having already addressed risks of tobacco, alcohol and performance-enhancing drugs, our association is asked also to campaign against opioid addiction.

State high school associations do not have the luxury to hire as many experienced people as they need to focus expertly on every topic that associations are asked to address.

The effect of this “person-power” shortage is to force the association’s executive director to be a utility player – an employee who can operate competently at many different positions, bringing time and prestige to the cause du jour.

Even the most forward thinking leader must be prepared to roll up sleeves and plug these holes in the team’s roster. This requires, again, that other staff be trusted to administer their assigned tasks without commanding the leader’s ongoing attention.

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.