The Other Mr. Forsythe

August 8, 2017

The modern world is quick to dismiss pioneers who paved our way, but it would be wrong to diminish the accomplishments of those who gave form and function to school-sponsored sports in Michigan.

It was a time when travel was arduous and communications were slow. A time when the fundamentals of sports we take for granted today were being determined. A time when the basic rules of competition and eligibility we have today were being developed.

No single person has done more than L. L. Forsythe to shape school sports in Michigan, and the nation. This is Lewis L. Forsythe, not Charles E. Forsythe, the first and longest-serving executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

In 1918-19 and again in 1923-24, L. L. Forsythe served as president of the MHSAA’s predecessor organization, the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Association, which operated from 1910 to 1924. He served on its board of control from 1921 to 1924.

When the MIAA gave way to the MHSAA in 1924, L. L. Forsythe was elected president of its Representative Council, and he served unpaid in that position for 18 consecutive years (1924 to 1942).

L. L. Forsythe served on the Executive Committee of the newly forming National Federation of State High School Associations from 1922 to 1940, and was the young national organization’s vice-president for 15 of those 18 years.

During these years, the MHSAA commenced state tournaments in seven sports and the National Federation ended national high school tournaments in all sports. Playing rules moved from a local hit-and-miss process to a national system that emphasized standardization and safety. Much that we do routinely now was a matter of first impression then.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.