Sometimes our meeting agendas give the impression that junior high/middle school programs are unimportant or an afterthought; but that was not the case during the MHSAA Representative Council meeting May 5 and 6, and it will not be the case at many meetings throughout the next 12 months at least.
Here are just two of the tough multi-faceted topics that the Representative Council has asked to be addressed at constituent meetings from now through next February and will be studied by the MHSAA Junior High/Middle School Committee, Classification Committee and many of the MHSAA’s separate sport committees:
Are current season limitations for contests and limitations on the lengths of contests appropriate for the junior high/middle school level? Do the current limits reflect the correct philosophy for sports at this level? Do they accommodate the four-season approach many schools encourage? Do the limits drive some students to non-school programs? Do they cause some schools to not join the MHSAA?
Should the MHSAA provide rules, programs and services for 6th-graders who, in nearly 80 percent of situations, are located in the same buildings with 7th and 8th-graders? Does the MHSAA’s lack of involvement encourage the same by schools, and allow non-school programs to fill the resulting void; and does this drive those students away from school-based sports permanently? Or would the MHSAA’s involvement at this level pressure school districts to add sixth grade programs and services at a time of dwindling resources for the 7-12 grade program?
We have always maintained that there is at least as much potential for school-based sports to benefit both kids and their schools at the junior high/middle school level as at the high school. Our agendas for the next year will have that belief as its foundation as these tough topics get the time they deserve.