By Rob Kaminski
MHSAA benchmarks editor
As we begin another calendar year, let's take a brief look at how the mission of school sports has (or hasn’t) changed since 1955, when former MHSAA Executive Director Charles E. Forsythe presented this practicum to the University of Michigan.
The following is an excerpt:
Presented by Charles E. Forsythe
Practicum in Physical Education
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Tuesday, June 21, 1955
WHY DO WE HAVE INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETICS IN OUR SCHOOLS?
- To meet the urge for competition which is a basic American tradition – let’s keep it.
- To provide a “whole school” interest and activity, bring in students other than athletes, enlist many student organizations.
- To teach students habits of health, sanitation, and safety.
- Athletics teach new skills and opportunities to improve those we have; this is basic educationally.
- To provide opportunities for lasting friendships both with teammates and opponents.
- To provide opportunity to exemplify and observe good sportsmanship which is good citizenship.
- Athletics give students a chance to enjoy one of America’s greatest heritages, the right to play and compete.
- One of the best ways to teach that a penalty follows the violation of a rule is through athletics.
- There must be an early understanding by students that participation in athletics is a privilege which carries responsibilities with it. Awarding school letter to a student is the second-highest recognition his school can give him – his diploma at graduation is the highest.
- To consider interscholastic athletic squad as “advanced” classes for the teaching of special skills – similar to bands, orchestras, school play casts, members of debating teams, etc. There is no reason why a reasonable amount of attention should not be given to such groups – as well as to those in the middle and lower quartiles in our schools. Both leaders and followers must be taught.
PHOTOS: (Top) Fans filled the arena for this MHSAA boys basketball tournament game. (Middle) Charles Forsythe served as the first executive director of the MHSAA.
While fans are settling into another season, Michigan State Police Lt. Tedric Gibbs has been fully immersed in football for months.
The Jackson Post’s assistant post commander serves as assistant coach for Jackson High School’s varsity football team and for the team at Parkside Middle School.
“I started coaching when my older son was in youth sports, as a way to do something together that we both love,” Gibbs said. “My younger son followed the same path, so I joined his team too. I grew up in Jackson and am grateful to be able to serve my hometown from the sidelines and at our post.”
Some 400 miles north, Lt. Mark Giannunzio is also a familiar face in and on the field. The MSP Negaunee Post assistant post commander and Eighth District public information officer enforces the rules of the game as a high school and college football official, the latter for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“I started at the high school level to stay involved in athletics and make authentic connections in the community,” Giannunzio said. “It’s rewarding to help teach the game and share knowledge of the rules. I currently have a full 11-game schedule in the GLIAC Division II college conference, with high school games interspersed during the year.”
The correlation among coaching, officiating and policing translates.
“With my fellow troopers, I want to inspire, motivate and encourage to get the most out of them,” Gibbs said. “I take the same approach with my players to figure out what they need from me, as their designated leader, to be as successful as they can. In both capacities, I do the work alongside them. We do it together.”
This approach is especially important when tough times surface. Lieutenant Gibbs’ high school team experienced tragedy right before its first game when a player died in a car crash.
“We focused on adversity,” said Gibbs, who was in a unique position to talk from a police perspective too. “It’s a benefit to have that insight and background and share it with what they can control – make good decisions and wear your seatbelt.”
Lieutenant Gibbs incorporates his coworkers when he can, like during spring conditioning when fellow troopers join him and his players, helping all involved to make new connections and build strong bonds between the students and officers.
“One of the most important attributes in both careers is communication,” Giannunzio said. “Communication can make or break an official and a police officer. Much like selling a citation to a motorist, I need to be able to sell the penalty in a calm and professional manner. Demeanor and attitude go together on both the football field and when we are out patrolling in the Blue Goose.”
Treating everyone with dignity and respect is something Lieutenants Gibbs and Giannunzio commit to as members of a modern police agency and in their areas of expertise on the football field.
“Both roles afford so many opportunities to develop culture and cultivate teamwork,” Gibbs said. “The best part is watching others flourish and playing a part in their growth.”
PHOTOS (Top) Michigan State Police Lt. Tedric Gibbs, left, serves as an assistant football coach for the Jackson High varsity. (Middle) Lt. Mark Giannunzio officiates at the high school and college levels. (Below) Gibbs also coaches at Jackson Parkside Middle School. (Photos provided by the Michigan State Police.)