Sixth-Grade Status

August 12, 2016

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.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on 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.