Of the approximately 2,000 schools serving 7th- and 8th-grade students in Michigan, according to the 2013 Michigan Education Directory that does not include home schools, only 731 are members of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. There are several reasons that explain this gap.
It is not a matter of cost. As with high schools, junior high/middle school membership is free. More likely reasons for the gap between the number of schools serving 7th- and 8th-graders and the number of those schools belonging to the MHSAA are these:
The school district overlooks MHSAA membership. This is often the case when there is no high school connected to the junior high/middle school.
The school district does not sponsor interscholastic athletics at the 7th- and 8th-grade level. At that level, sports are community run, so the school sees no need for MHSAA membership.
The school district does sponsor 7th- and 8th-grade sports but does not want to follow MHSAA rules. And among the rules these school districts object to are these:
This third reason, and especially these two objections, are being reviewed throughout the MHSAA constituency again this year. And I’ll have more to say in our next three postings.