By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The Michigan High School Athletic Association will conduct its 39th annual Update Meeting series in the coming weeks, and this year’s schedule will again offer in-service programming for athletic directors at six of the seven locations.
The Update series is annually attended by more than 800 school administrators. During the meetings, information about current MHSAA activities is disseminated, issues affecting interscholastic athletics are discussed, and attendees are surveyed on various topics.
Six luncheon meetings are scheduled in the Lower Peninsula, and a morning meeting is scheduled for Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. MHSAA Executive Director John E. "Jack" Roberts will address high school superintendents, principals, athletic directors and school board members on a variety of topics at these meetings. Update Meetings also provide school administrators an opportunity to ask questions and discuss any recent changes in the Association's rules and regulations.
This will be the 14th year for Athletic Director In-Service programs to take place in morning-long sessions prior to most of the Update Meetings. These workshops are designed to help prepare those administrators for the rigors of their jobs, and with the Update Meetings offer those in attendance an opportunity to meet with administrators from neighboring school districts with whom they normally are not able to have day-to-day contact.
The meeting in Gaylord on October 10 also will serve as the Annual Business Meeting for the MHSAA. The registration form for Athletic Director In-Service and Update Meetings is available on the “Administrators” page under the “Schools” heading on the MHSAA Website at www.mhsaa.com.
Here is a schedule of the 2016 Update Meetings:
• Sept. 21 – Four Points by Sheraton, Kalamazoo (Noon – Preceded by AD In-Service at 8:30 a.m.)
• Sept. 26 – DeCarlo’s Center, Warren (Noon – Preceded by AD In-Service at 8:30 a.m.)
• Oct. 3 – English Hills Country Club, Comstock Park (Noon – Preceded by AD In-Service at 8:30 a.m.)
• Oct. 6 – Causeway Bay, Lansing (Noon – Preceded by AD In-Service at 8:30 a.m.)
• Oct. 5 – Zehnder's Restaurant, Frankenmuth (Noon – Preceded by AD In-Service at 8:30 a.m.)
• Oct. 10 – Otsego Club & Resort, Gaylord (Noon – Preceded by AD In-Service at 8:30 a.m.)
• Oct. 28 – Northern Michigan University Superior Dome, Marquette (10 a.m. – Upper Peninsula Athletic Directors Meeting)
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.
Michigan continued to rank 10th nationally in high school-aged population during the 2022-23 school year and continued to best that ranking in participation in high school sports, according to the annual national participation study conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Michigan ranked ninth for overall participation nationally, based on a total of 268,070 participants who competed in sports for which the MHSAA conducts postseason tournaments. The total counts students once for each sport played, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once.
Michigan also ranked ninth nationally for both girls (111,569) and boys (156,501) participation separately, while ranking ninth for high-school aged boys population and 10th for girls according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Michigan’s national rankings in seven sports improved from 2021-22, while nine sports saw lower national rankings than the previous year. The biggest jumps came in girls volleyball and boys soccer, which both moved up two spots – volleyball to fourth-highest participation nationally, and boys soccer to eighth. Girls golf (fourth), softball (seventh), girls track & field (seventh), girls swimming & diving and boys swimming & diving (both eighth) also moved up on their respective national lists.
Participation in several more MHSAA sports also continued to outpace the state’s rankings for high school-aged population.
For girls, participation in bowling (fourth), tennis (fourth), cross country (sixth), basketball (seventh), competitive cheer (ninth) and soccer (ninth) all ranked higher than their population listing of 10th nationally. Among boys sports, bowling (second), ice hockey (fourth), tennis (fifth), golf (fifth), basketball (sixth), track & field (sixth), cross country (seventh), football – all formats combined (seventh) and baseball (eighth) exceeded that ninth ranking for population.
Only 11 states sponsor alpine skiing, but Michigan ranked third on both the girls and boys lists for that sport. Wrestling, with boys and girls totals counted together, ranked eighth.
Participation nationally rose more than three percent from 2021-22 to 7,857,969 participants, the first upward movement in participation data since the all-time record of 7,980,886 in 2017-18, which was followed by the first decline in 30 years in 2018-19 and the two-year halt in data collection by the NFHS related to the pandemic. (The MHSAA continued to collect and report its data during this time.) The national total includes 4,529,789 boys and 3,328,180 girls, according to figures obtained from the 51 NFHS member state associations, which include the District of Columbia.
Eleven-player football remained the most popular boys sport, and most popular participation sport overall, with the total climbing back over one million participants. The total of 1,028,761 participants marked an increase of 54,969 and 5.6 percent from the previous year. This year’s increase was the first in the sport since 2013 and only the second increase since the all-time high of 1,112,303 in 2008-09. There also was a slight gain (34,935 to 35,301) in the number of boys in 6-, 8- and 9-player football.
Next on the boys list were outdoor track & field, basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, cross country, tennis, golf, and swimming & diving, respectively.
On the girls side, outdoor track and field (up 6.5 percent) and volleyball (3.6) remained in the top two spots, while basketball reclaimed the third position. Cross country ranked fourth, followed by softball, soccer, golf, tennis, swimming & diving and competitive spirit, respectively.
Texas remained atop the list of state participation with 827,446, but California closed the gap in second adding 25,000 participants to climb to 787,697. New York is third with 356,803, followed by Illinois (335,801), Ohio (323,117), Pennsylvania (316,587), Florida (297,389), New Jersey (272,159), Michigan (268,070) and Minnesota (219,094), which climbed into the top 10 past Massachusetts.
The participation survey has been compiled in its current form by the NFHS since 1971.