The Other Mr. Forsythe
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.