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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Sept. 8 – Attendance at Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason tournaments during the 2010-11 school year hit its highest point in the last five years, powered by an upward surge in Football Playoff spectatorship.
Total attendance for 2010-11 was 1,522.468 with 1,090,040 fans at boys tournaments; and 432,368 spectators at girls tournaments. Attendance is kept for all sports except golf, skiing and tennis, where admission is typically not charged. The previous year, total attendance was 1,499,552; with 1,065,348 fans at boys tournament events, and 434,204 at girls games. The overall and boys attendance figures represent increases of two-tenths of a percent, and the girls numbers were down less than one half of one tenth of one percent.
The upwards bump came on the gridiron, which saw an 11.3 percent increase over the previous year during the playoffs with 448,506. Since playoff expansion occurred in 1999, the Football Playoffs have been the single most attended tournament series on nine occasions.
Basketball attendance continued its overall freefall. Attendance for the boys tournament hit its lowest point of all time at 335,051, a drop of 3.4 percent; while overall girls playoff attendance was stable in 2010-11 at 166,881. Since 2006-07, attendance at each tournaments is down compared to the previous four years; with girls down from an average of 175,920 to 159,539 – a 9.3 percent drop, and boys down from an average of 433,477 to 341,821 – a 21.1 percent decrease.
While the total number was its highest since 2005-06, the average attendance for the past five years is 1,486,382, a 7.6 percent drop over the previous five-year average of 1,608,605.
Four girls sports set attendance marks for their respective tournaments in 2010-11 – competitive cheer with 23,019, topping last year’s mark of 22,907; lacrosse with 4,352, topping last year’s mark of 4,065, swimming & diving with 5,563, topping last year’s mark of 5,347; and volleyball with 97,023, topping last year’s mark of 96,609. The continued volleyball increase continues to be attributable the reformatted tournament schedule where schools play only one match per day during the District and Regional rounds.
No boys tournaments set overall attendance marks last year. The MHSAA cross country and track & field tournament series, at which boys and girls compete simultaneously, both set a new spectatorship marks with 18,384 for the former (the old record was 17,618 in 1005-06), and 36,873 for the latter (the old record was 36,778 in 2009-10).
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract approximately 1.5 million spectators each year.