Membership Resolutions for the Michigan High School Athletic Association for the 2016-17 school year are now due. This is an annual rite of summer for school boards and governing bodies, intended to be a time when those entities recommit to following all the rules, all the time.
A new wrinkle in the routine is the opportunity to include 6th-graders in middle school membership. Approximately two-thirds of member middle schools are doing so.
What is not known to us through the Membership Resolution process is how those 6th-graders will be involved – where the school will have separate 6th-grade teams and where 6th-graders will be part of teams for 7th- and/or 8th-graders.
Junior high/middle schools which join the MHSAA at the 6th-grade level may allow 6th-graders to participate with 7th- and 8th-graders in individual sports (e.g., bowling, cross country, track & field, swimming & diving, tennis and wrestling). With the approval of their middle school leagues, this may occur also in team sports.
The MHSAA’s Junior High/Middle School Committee will depart from other standing committees by meeting twice during 2016-17 and subsequent school years. Its full agenda will include a review of how 6th-graders are being accommodated by middle schools and their leagues.
All of this is under the over-arching goal to involve more students in school-sponsored sports at younger ages, and to capture their interests and meet their needs within the philosophies of educational athletics.