Despite Overall Dip, 8 Sports Add Athletes

July 8, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Eight high school sports for which postseason tournaments are sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association enjoyed gains in participation during the 2014-15 school year. However, total participation in MHSAA sports decreased slightly for the fourth straight school year, following a continuing trend of declining member school enrollments.

A total of 282,623 participants took part in the 28 tournament sports offered by the MHSAA during the past year – a 1.95-percent decrease from the 2013-14 figure of 288,230. However, enrollments at member schools also decreased 1.24 percent from 2013-14 and have fallen 11.1 percent since the 2006-07 school year – while MHSAA participation has fallen only 9.7 percent during that time. This year’s dip was only slightly larger than the 1.9-percent decrease from 2012-13 to 2013-14.

Overall boys participation fell 1.5 percent from 2013-14 to 2014-15, while girls participation fell 2.6 percent. The overall MHSAA totals count students once for each sport in which they participate, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once. 

Girls lacrosse was the only MHSAA sport to set a participation record during 2014-15, with 2,589 athletes (an increase of 1.9 percent) this spring, and has set a participation record every season since becoming a sponsored tournament sport in 2005. However, boys lacrosse, which also became tournament sponsored in 2005, saw its first decrease in participation, falling 2.6 percent to 4,958 athletes despite five schools adding programs to bring that total to 130.

Baseball participation increased for the fourth straight school year, this season six tenths of a percent to 18,333 athletes. The other six sports that saw increased participation during 2014-15 all bounced back from decreases between 2012-13 and 2013-14. Boys bowling increased 4.2 percent to 3,724 athletes, its second-highest total as an MHSAA tournament sport. Both boys skiing (4.0 percent increase to 775 athletes) and girls skiing (1.4 percent to 671) also saw higher participation after two seasons of declines. Girls competitive cheer (1.0 percent to 7,189 athletes), girls gymnastics (3.0 percent to 618) and boys soccer (1.0 percent to 14,426) also saw bounce-back years after dips the school year before.

However, two of the most popular girls sports continued to experience downward trends. Girls basketball participation fell for the ninth straight season, to 15,702 athletes, the sport’s lowest total since records first were kept in 1991-92. The girls basketball total has decreased 18 percent since a U.S. District Court decision led to the switching of girls basketball season from fall to winter beginning in 2007-08. Comparatively, girls enrollment at MHSAA schools during that time has fallen 11.6 percent.

The sport that swapped seasons with girls basketball and moved to fall, volleyball, saw a 3.3-percent drop in participation this school year to 17,996 athletes, its fewest since 1991-92 and a decrease of 16.5 percent since its final season as a winter sport.

Also of note in this year’s survey:

  • Total, eight sports saw increases in participation in 2014-15 (four boys, four girls), while 20 experienced decreases (10 boys, 10 girls).

  • A recent drop in football participation, 11 and 8-player teams combined, has continued to slow, the total this season falling only 1.4 percent to 40,088 athletes. The drop from 2011-12 to 2012-13 was 3.7 percent, and the drop from 2012-13 to 2013-14 was two percent.

  • Wrestling saw a decrease for the sixth straight year, this season to 9,475 participants, a 7.9-percent drop from 2013-14 with its lowest total since the collection of data began.

  • Girls cross country, after five straight years of increases, fell back 4.1 percent, to 8,350 athletes, although that total still represented the third highest of the last seven seasons. The trend was identical for boys cross country, except this season’s total of 8,786 athletes was down only 1.1 percent from a year ago and the second-highest over the seven-season string.

  • Swimming and diving saw the largest decrease among a pair of related sports; girls participation fell six percent to 4,938 athletes and boys fell 7.4 percent to 5,617 after both had experienced slight increases during the last three school years.

  • Boys golf participation fell for the sixth straight season, to 6,533 athletes, its lowest since 1991-92.

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 – – by clicking on Schools > Administrators > Sports Participation Listing.

The following chart shows participation figures for the 2014-15 school year from MHSAA member schools for sports in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament:

                BOYS                                                   GIRLS





















Competitive Cheer





Cross Country





Football –

                11 player




















Ice Hockey

























Swimming & Diving










Track & Field






Parking, Entrance Protocols Announced For 2023 11-Player Football Finals at Ford Field

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

November 19, 2023

To provide for the convenience and safety of spectators attending the Michigan High School Athletic Association 11-Player Football Finals on Nov. 25 and 26 at Ford Field in Detroit, attendees are being advised of a variety of items related to transportation and security – including policies regarding parking, seating and types of bags allowed into the stadium.

Parking will be available in Ford Field facilities and lots to the east and north of the stadium and costs $8. A map identifying the designated Ford Field lots (4, 5 and 6) and parking deck can be found on the Football page under “Tracking the Tournament.” (There also are a number of privately-operated parking facilities close to Ford Field, but their pricing may differ.)

Fans also are advised that the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Ford Field parking facilities and lots, and smoking – including use of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers – is prohibited inside the stadium. Tailgating, including the setting up and use of grilling equipment, also is not allowed.

Tickets are priced at $20 and allow a fan to see all four games in a single day. Tickets are available for purchase at the door (cash or credit accepted), from participating schools, or online from Ford Field via Ticketmaster – links to order tickets both days also are on the MHSAA Website football page. Spectators leaving the stadium will be required to purchase another ticket for re-entry. Infants able to be held in arms will be admitted without charge for this event. There will not be a public Will Call window.

Spectators may enter Ford Field at Gates A & B. Upon arrival in the building, fans will find their designated seating areas on the South side of the field if their team is the designated home team for their contest and on the North side for the designated visiting team. Home teams this weekend are Belleville, Warren De La Salle Collegiate, Mason, Harper Woods, Corunna, Almont, Jackson Lumen Christi and Ottawa Lake Whiteford. Brightly-lit video boards above the seating areas will display the names of the participating teams each day, and fans should sit on the side of the stadium where they see their school’s name. For general fans, the entire lower bowl of Ford Field will be open for the event.

Security measures also will be in place to help assure spectator safety. Fans will be subject to metal detector screening, and Ford Field personnel reserve the right to request patrons open their coats, bags and other item-carrying vessels for visual inspection and deny entrance to individuals who do not cooperate. Spectators should remove cell phones, cameras, keys and other large metal objects before passing through the metal detectors.

Items which fans will be prohibited from bringing into the building include, but are not limited to, the following: 

*  Purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, book bags, diaper bags, fanny packs, cinch bags, grocery & paper bags; duffle bags, computer bags or luggage of any kind.
*  Aerosol cans (hairspray, mace, pepper spray, etc.) 

*  Animals (except service animals to aid guests with disabilities)
*  Balloons (air or helium)
*  Balls (beach balls, footballs, etc.)
*  Banners or large flags

*  Cameras with lenses longer than five inches or any detachable lens. Selfie Sticks also are prohibited.
*  Chairs including folding chairs or stools
*  Decals, stickers, confetti or glitter
*  Drones and/or remote-controlled aircraft

*  Electronic equipment including laptop computers, video recorders (hand-held video cameras are allowed), tripods and wearable video cameras including Go Pros.
*  Fireworks 
*  Flashlights

*  Food, beverages – including water – or liquids (cans, bottles, boxes, flasks, etc.) 
*  Illegal substances 
*  Knives, pocketknives, box cutters, scissors, etc. 
*  Laser pointers 
*  Marijuana including medically prescribed electronic accessories or paraphernalia associated with marijuana or illegal narcotics use.
*  Markers (permanent) and/or paint 
*  Noisemaking devices (bells, horns, kazoos, whistles, etc.) 
*  Objects that can be used as missiles or projectiles (sticks, poles, bats, clubs, Frisbees, etc.) 
*  Strollers and infant car seats or carriers 
*  Umbrellas (large size)
*  Weapons 
*  Wrapped gifts

The following items may be permitted after inspection

*  Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, or a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc or similar). An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at the Gate.
* Infant items in a clear bag (bottles and formula) only if accompanied by a child
* Binoculars and binoculars cases not exceeding 4½ inches by 6½ inches may be brought in via one of the clear plastic bag options. 
*  Cameras (lenses may not measure longer than five inches or be detachable, and no tripods or extension cords)
*  Small radios (no larger than the size of a football and used with an earpiece)
*  Small, compact umbrellas (must be placed securely under seat)
*  Posters and signs without poles or sticks, or larger than what one person can hold. 
*  Tablets (iPads, Kindles, etc.)
*  Seat cushions not exceeding 15 inches by 15 inches. Seat cushions also must not contain arm rests, zippers, pockets, flaps or metal backs.

The complete list of prohibited items can be found on the Detroit Lions website. Prohibited items that are discovered during security inspections at stadium entrances must be returned to the owner's vehicle or discarded. Items will not be held for later pickup. 

Fans are reminded that all image taking (still and video) may be only for personal, non-commercial use.

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