MHSAA's Roberts Elected to NFHS Board

July 12, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts has been elected to serve a four-year term on the Board of Directors for the National Federation of State High School Associations, the national governing body for high school athletics and activities.

Roberts has served as executive director since 1986 and is the longest-tenured active state association executive director among NFHS members. The MHSAA is one of the nation’s largest state associations with more than 1,400 high schools and junior high/middle schools. The NFHS, in its press release on new officers and board members, called Roberts "one of the nation’s most articulate advocates for education-based activity programs."

After graduating from P. J. Jacobs High School in Stevens Point, Wis., and Dartmouth College and attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Roberts taught English and coached football at high schools in Milwaukee and Denver until 1973, when he joined the staff of the NFHS, which at that time was located in Elgin, Illinois.

From 1973 to 1980, Roberts developed the NFHS’ volleyball, swimming & diving and ice hockey rules programs, and re-codified the Soccer Rules Book. Later, as assistant director, he was in charge of public, legislative and judicial affairs for the NFHS.

Roberts joined the staff of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in 1981 and was named executive vice president of the FCA in 1984. He served in that capacity until 1986, when he was named executive director of the MHSAA.

Roberts served a previous term on the NFHS Board of Directors from 1996 to 2000 and has been chairman of the NFHS Network Board of Directors since 2013. He also has served on two previous NFHS Strategic Planning Committees and is past chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives.

PHOTO: MHSAA Executive Director Jack Roberts congratulates an MHSAA/Farm Bureau Scholar-Athlete Award winner at the Breslin Center. 

MHSAA High School Sports Participation Continues to Exceed Population Ranking Nationally

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 15, 2023

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.