Dangerous Plays

The MHSAA’s fourth health and safety thrust for the next four years focuses on competition rules.  It intends to locate the most dangerous plays in each sport and to try to reduce their frequency.  For example:

  • We know that kickoff returns, punt returns and interception returns – plays in the open field with a change in direction – are the most dangerous football game situations.
  • We know that heading the ball in soccer is injurious, especially to younger athletes, and especially to females.

  •  We know that checking from behind is a cause of serious injury in ice hockey.

  • We wonder if protective headgear has a place in soccer, or if protective head and face protection has a future role in softball.

  • We know that ACL injuries in female basketball players and volleyball players is near epidemic and wonder if there is equipment or conditioning that can be mandated or recommended to save our players from what are serious and sometimes career-ending injuries.

We can make changes ourselves – through MHSAA sport committees – for the subvarsity level, but our committees can only make recommendations to national rules committees for varsity level play.  Over the next four years, we will be asking our sport committees to give more time to the most dangerous plays in their sport – identifying what they are and proposing how to reduce that danger.

Posted in: Health & Safety


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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 44 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 seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

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.