Multi-Sport Survey Helps Set Benchmark

July 31, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

NOTE: This report includes a revision Aug. 3 to account for incorrect data for Jenison, which previously was listed with the second-highest percentage of multi-sport athletes in Class A. The updated data changed only two percentages updated below (*), and both by only one tenth of a percent.

Nearly 43 percent of athletes at Michigan High School Athletic Association member high schools participated in more than one sport during the 2017-18 school year, according to the first-ever Multi-Sport Participation Survey conducted this spring and inspired by the work of the MHSAA’s Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation.

Early and intense sport specialization has become one of the most serious issues related to health and safety at all levels of youth sports, as overuse injuries and burnout among athletes have been tied to chronic injuries and health-related problems later in life. In early 2016, the MHSAA appointed the Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation as part of a continued effort to promote and protect participant health and address the issues leading to early sport specialization.

While there is a growing amount of research detailing the negative effects of early sport specialization, there is little research on the prevalence of sport specialization, including at the high school level. This MHSAA survey received responses from 79.9 percent of member high schools and will be conducted annually to measure how multi-sport participation exists at schools of different sizes and also the progress being made to increase it at all schools.

“It’s now well-known that students who specialize in one sport year-round are prone to all kinds of health hazards. This is serious business; we have to find out the ways and means to promote the multi-sport experience,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “This survey will help us identify best practices. If I’m an administrator, and another school of the same size and same demographics has twice the multi-sport participation as my school, I want to know why. What are they doing to encourage that culture?”

From schools that responded to this year’s survey, 42.5 percent of students participated in athletics in 2017-18 – 46.3 percent of boys and 38.7 percent of girls. As anticipated, Class D schools enjoyed the highest percentage of athletes among the entire student body, at 55.2 percent, followed by Class C (50.1), Class B (45.1) and Class A (39.1*).

Of those athletes counted by responding schools, 42.8 percent participated in more than one sport – including 44.6 percent of boys and 40.6 percent of girls. Class D again enjoyed the highest percentage of multi-sport athletes, 58.1 percent, followed by Class C (55.2), Class B (46.7) and Class A (35.9*).

Similar results for overall sport participation and multi-sport participation relative to enrollment size were seen by further breaking down Class A into schools of fewer than 1,000 students, 1,000-1,500 students, 1,501-2,000 students and more than 2,000 students. For both sport participation as a whole and multi-sport participation specifically, the smallest Class A schools enjoyed the highest percentages, while percentages then decreased for every larger size group of schools.

The MHSAA Task Force on Multi-Sport Participation also recommended measuring multi-sport participation in MHSAA member schools to recognize “achievers” – that is, schools that surpass the norm given their enrollment and other factors that affect school sports participation. An achievement program is being developed for future years, and this year’s survey results will assist in setting a benchmark for that recognition.

In Class A, Marquette (82.6 percent), Grand Rapids Union (74.1) and Holland West Ottawa (74.0) posted the highest percentages of multi-sport athletes. In Class B, four schools achieved at least 80 percent multi-sport participation – Birch Run (87.1), Gladstone (83.8), Clawson (81.0) and Shepherd (80).

Class C saw 13 schools with more than 80 percent of its athletes taking part in more than one sport, led by Ubly (90.2 percent) and Detroit Southeastern (89.2). Four Class D schools responded at higher than 90 percent multi-sport participation – Brethren (95.4), DeTour (94.3), Jackson Christian (91.7) and Waterford Our Lady (90.8).

The full summary report on the Multi-Sport Participation Survey is available on the “Health & Safety” page of the MHSAA Website.

MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 27, 2023

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.

The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.

Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.

“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”

Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.

All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.

“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.

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 1.3 million spectators each year.