Should Pasco County sixth graders be allowed to participate in school sports?

The School Board will consider changing its policy to allow sixth graders to play.
Paul R. Smith Middle School football team [Pasco County schools]
Paul R. Smith Middle School football team [Pasco County schools]
Published April 11, 2018

The Pasco County School Board is serious about offering sixth graders an opportunity to play sports in middle school.

After tossing around the idea for months, the board will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed policy change that would allow sixth graders to participate for the first time.

The draft proposal would add language stating that all sixth, seventh and eighth graders are "eligible to try out" for middle school sports teams. It would further stipulate that all players must play in any game for which they are in uniform.

Some parents have advocated this idea for years. In the fall, School Board members asked the administration to look into adjusting the rules, which were put into place when sixth graders attended elementary schools and the older grades were in junior high school.

When the district moved to the middle school model, it did not revise its policy to reflect that sixth graders were in a school with athletics. Some leaders wanted to give the youngest students a chance to make the transition, and also worried about putting them on the field with much bigger teens.

The growth of club sports has eliminated some of those concerns, as children often play with older peers.

The School Board is set to hold its public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and to vote on the proposal on May 1.

Past coverage: Pasco County sixth graders poised to play school sports next year