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Records Set in 3 Sports as Overall MHSAA Participation Stays Above Enrollment Dip

Contact: John Johnson or Geoff Kimmerly
517.332.5046 or
media@mhsaa.com 

EAST LANSING, Mich. – July 13 – Enrollment in Michigan High School Athletic Association member high schools continued a trend of slight declines in 2016-17, but participation in sports held firm as records were set in three of the 28 sports for which postseason tournaments are sponsored by the MHSAA.

A total of 283,625 participants competed in MHSAA-sponsored sports this past school year, down 0.21 percent from 2015-16. However, this year’s decrease falls in line with a decrease in enrollment at member schools of 0.40 percent. The overall MHSAA participation totals count students once for each sport in which they participate, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once. 

Despite a drop in girls enrollment of 0.60 percent in 2016-17, girls participation increased for the second straight school year to 119,937 participants, an increase of 0.55 percent. Boys overall participation fell 0.76 percent to 163,688 participants, slightly sharper than the drop in boys enrollment of 0.21 percent for the school year. However, eight girls sports and eight boys sports saw increases in participation in 2016-17.

Boys and girls lacrosse continued their record-setting climb, boys lacrosse with 5,114 participants to increase 3.3 percent from 2015-16 and break its record set in 2013-14. Girls lacrosse saw 2,814 participants, an increase of 1.4 percent from the previous year, to continue its streak of setting a participation record every season since becoming a sponsored tournament sport in 2005. Boys cross country also set a record for the second straight season, this time with an increase of 1.7 percent to 9,415 participants total.

Good news also came from girls basketball, which ended a string of 10 straight declines in participation with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2016-17 – those 15,896 participants were the most in the sport since 2013-14. The largest percentage increases by far in 2016-17 were seen in boys and girls skiing, which were up 16.4 and 14.4 percent, respectively, with 837 boys participants and 746 girls after both experienced decreases in participation the school year before.

A number of other sports also saw increases on both the boys and girls’ sides: swimming & diving saw a 5.2 percent increase for boys and 4.1 increase for girls, track & field saw a 2.4 percent increase for girls and 1.9 percent increase for boys, girls cross country joined its boys counterpart with a 1.0 percent increase in participation, and tennis saw a 2.8 percent increase for girls and 0.48 increase for boys. That boys tennis increase ended a string of seven straight years of declining participation.  

Other sports to see increases in 2016-17 were girls golf, increasing for the second straight season, this time 2.9 percent to 3,561 participants; boys ice hockey, up 1.8 percent to 3,411 participants; and boys soccer up 0.38 percent to 14,630 participants. 

Also of note in this year’s survey:

• The increase in participation for 16 sports during 2016-17 was compared to an increase in 15 sports for 2015-16 and only eight sports in 2014-15.

• After a significant slowing in participation decline in football over the previous three years, 2016-17 saw a decline of 4.6 percent, or 1,805 participants from 2015-16. The number of school-sponsored football programs remained consistent over the last two years – there were 642 in 2015-16 and 640 in 2016-17 (up from 630 in 2014-15). But there was a shift of programs from 11-player to 8-player; there were 15 fewer 11-player programs in 2016-17 than the year before, but 13 more 8-player programs.

• Of the 12 MHSAA sports that saw participation declines in 2016-17, three were by mere hundredths of a percent. Boys wrestling saw a decline of three participants total, girls gymnastics had two fewer participants and boys golf participation decreased by one person.

The participation figures are gathered annually from MHSAA member schools to submit to the National Federation of State High School Associations for compiling of its national participation survey. Results of Michigan surveys from the 2000-01 school year to present may be viewed on the MHSAA Website – www.mhsaa.com – by clicking on Schools > Administrators > Sports Participation Listing.

The following chart shows participation figures for the 2016-17 school year from MHSAA member schools for sports in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament:

BOYS

GIRLS

SPORT

SCHOOLS (A)

PARTICIPANTS

SCHOOLS (A)

PARTICIPANTS (B)

Baseball

635/656/6

17,989

-

0/9

Basketball

722/735/1

21,263

690/725

15,896/4

Bowling

363/381/10

3,792

341/369

2,926/24

Competitive Cheer

-

-

334/349

6,720

Cross Country

618/649/0

9,415

609/646

8,489

Football - 11 player

580/592/87

36,460

-

0/111

                    8-player

60/61/11

1,130

-

14

Golf

496/526/59

6,170

329/342

3,561/100

Gymnastics

-

-

72/88

636

Ice Hockey

233/257/14

3,397

 

0/14

Lacrosse

147/153/3

5,110

107/107

2,814/4

Skiing

92/102/3

830

89/103

746/7

Soccer

481/499/23

14,541

459/483

13,212/89

Softball

-

-

616/646

13,641

Swimming & Diving

243/274/12

4,919

256/283

5,600/60

Tennis

293/309/9

6,085

327/341

8,920/21

Track & Field

655/683/0

23,232

648/681

17,009/0

Volleyball

-

-

704/720

19,067

Wrestling

459/483/159

9,355

-

0/2

(A) The first number is the number of schools reporting sponsorship on the Sports Participation Survey. The second number indicates schools sponsoring the sport including primary and secondary schools in cooperative programs as of May 22, 2017. The third number indicates the number of schools that had girls playing on teams consisting primarily of boys.

(B) The second number indicates the number of additional girls playing on teams consisting primarily of boys and entered in boys competition.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,400 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 more than 1.4 million spectators each year. 

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