My Privilege

The National Federation of State High School Associations is at this moment conducting its 99th Annual Summer Meeting in Chicago, the city where the organization was born almost a century ago.

For all but seven months of the past 62 of these 99 years, there has been a John Roberts as one of the NFHS member state association executives – my dad in Wisconsin for nearly 30 years, and I in Michigan for 32.

I attended my first NFHS Summer Meeting when I was eight years old. Five of us in an un-air-conditioned family sedan drove nearly the full length of US Highway 41 from Wisconsin to Miami Beach at the southern tip of Florida.

My younger sister learned to swim there. My older sister found a boyfriend there. And I guess I discovered my life’s work there.

A life’s work from which I will retire this summer.

Including those on the job today, there have been just 324 individuals who have ever served as full-time chief executives of the NFHS member high school associations. Just 324 who appreciate the pressures and the opportunities of this work the way my dad and I have.

These jobs are precious gifts and a rich blessing . . . unusually rare opportunities to serve and influence students, schools and society.

For years I’ve concluded most of my correspondence with the phrase, “It’s a privilege to serve you.” I’ve meant it.


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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.