By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Dec. 18 - The three remaining Fall tournaments still to be completed this 2020 season by the Michigan High School Athletic Association will resume, with teams allowed to restart practice Monday, Dec. 21, according to an announcement today allowing those activities to resume by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and a plan approved by the MHSAA’s Representative Council.
The MHSAA’s Football, Girls Volleyball and Girls Swimming & Diving teams and individuals still participating in tournament play will be allowed to do so as part of an MDHHS pilot rapid testing program designed to gain insight and collect data on the spread of COVID-19 as the MDHHS plans to provide expanded rapid testing availability to schools in January. It is anticipated that specifics and details of the Fall tournament pilot testing program will be coming from the MDHHS.
• The Football Playoffs will begin again Saturday, Jan. 2, with Regional Finals for 11-player teams and Semifinals for 8-player teams. The 8-player championship games in both divisions and all 11-player Semifinals will be played the following Saturday, Jan. 9. The football season will conclude with the 11-Player Finals in all divisions the weekend of Jan. 15-16. All Semifinals in both 11 and 8-player will be played at home sites. Sites for championship games will be finalized soon and posted to the MHSAA Website.
• The Girls Volleyball Tournament will begin again with Quarterfinals on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Semifinals and Finals will be played Jan. 7-9 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
• The Girls Swimming & Diving Finals with return with its three Lower Peninsula Finals competed during the weekend of Jan. 15-16 with one division at each of three locations. Diving would be completed Jan. 15, with swimming the following day..
All previous safety protocols remain in place, and no spectators will be allowed at the Fall tournament events
All indoor Winter sports – which are not part of the pilot rapid testing program – remain on pause from the MDHHS until Jan. 16, although girls and boys alpine skiing season – competed outdoors and following safety protocols including all activity must be outdoors – will be allowed to begin practice Monday, Dec. 21. The Council will meet again Tuesday, Dec. 22, to discuss details for the rest of Winter sports.
All Spring 2021 sports are expected to begin on time and play complete seasons concluding with their traditional MHSAA Tournament dates in May and June.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
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.
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.