Middle School Membership

September 27, 2013

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:

  1. The school district overlooks MHSAA membership. This is often the case when there is no high school connected to the junior high/middle school.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:
  • The limits on the number of contests . . . they’re too few; and/or

    The prohibition of 6th-graders on teams of 7th- and 8th-graders.

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.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.