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Hard Fun

One of the features that attracts students to school sports is that competitive athletics is “hard fun.” Most students want to have fun, and most students ascribe greater value to that which doesn’t come too easily.

I don’t think we change much as we mature. We continue to value most the things that require effort . . . the activities which, when completed, feel like an accomplishment.

It’s why I cherish my recent high altitude hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu . . . the hardest physical challenge I’ve had since double-session football practices in high school and college.

It’s why coaches often will say their favorite season was the .500 record with over-achievers, not the conference championship with under-achievers.

It’s why students will return to class reunions this summer, 10 and 20 years after their graduation, and compliment especially the teachers and coaches who required the most of them as students and athletes.

What the very best classrooms and competitive athletic and activity programs do is challenge students. They push students to discover that they can move beyond where they thought their limits might be. They encourage students to explore their capabilities and to experience the joy of exceeding their expectations.

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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.