Participation Stays Above Enrollment Dip

July 13, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Enrollment in Michigan High School Athletic Association member high schools continued a trend of slight declines in 2016-17, but participation in sports held firm as records were set in three of the 28 sports for which postseason tournaments are sponsored by the MHSAA.

A total of 283,625 participants competed in MHSAA-sponsored sports this past school year, down 0.21 percent from 2015-16. However, this year’s decrease falls in line with a decrease in enrollment at member schools of 0.40 percent. The overall MHSAA participation totals count students once for each sport in which they participate, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once.

Despite a drop in girls enrollment of 0.60 percent in 2016-17, girls participation increased for the second straight school year to 119,937 participants, an increase of 0.55 percent. Boys overall participation fell 0.76 percent to 163,688 participants, slightly sharper than the drop in boys enrollment of 0.21 percent for the school year. However, eight girls sports and eight boys sports saw increases in participation in 2016-17.

Boys and girls lacrosse continued their record-setting climb, boys lacrosse with 5,114 participants to increase 3.3 percent from 2015-16 and break its record set in 2013-14. Girls lacrosse saw 2,814 participants, an increase of 1.4 percent from the previous year, to continue its streak of setting a participation record every season since becoming a sponsored tournament sport in 2005. Boys cross country also set a record for the second straight season, this time with an increase of 1.7 percent to 9,415 participants total.

Good news also came from girls basketball, which ended a string of 10 straight declines in participation with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2016-17 – those 15,896 participants were the most in the sport since 2013-14. The largest percentage increases by far in 2016-17 were seen in boys and girls skiing, which were up 16.4 and 14.4 percent, respectively, with 837 boys participants and 746 girls after both experienced decreases in participation the school year before.

A number of other sports also saw increases on both the boys and girls’ sides: swimming & diving saw a 5.2 percent increase for boys and 4.1 increase for girls, track & field saw a 2.4 percent increase for girls and 1.9 percent increase for boys, girls cross country joined its boys counterpart with a 1.0 percent increase in participation, and tennis saw a 2.8 percent increase for girls and 0.48 increase for boys. That boys tennis increase ended a string of seven straight years of declining participation.  

Other sports to see increases in 2016-17 were girls golf, increasing for the second straight season, this time 2.9 percent to 3,561 participants; boys ice hockey, up 1.8 percent to 3,411 participants; and boys soccer up 0.38 percent to 14,630 participants. 

Also of note in this year’s survey:

• The increase in participation for 16 sports during 2016-17 was compared to an increase in 15 sports for 2015-16 and only eight sports in 2014-15.

• After a significant slowing in participation decline in football over the previous three years, 2016-17 saw a decline of 4.6 percent, or 1,805 participants from 2015-16. The number of school-sponsored football programs remained consistent over the last two years – there were 642 in 2015-16 and 640 in 2016-17 (up from 630 in 2014-15). But there was a shift of programs from 11-player to 8-player; there were 15 fewer 11-player programs in 2016-17 than the year before, but 13 more 8-player programs.

• Of the 12 MHSAA sports that saw participation declines in 2016-17, three were by mere hundredths of a percent. Boys wrestling saw a decline of three participants total, girls gymnastics had two fewer participants and boys golf participation decreased by one person.

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 by clicking here.

The following chart shows participation figures for the 2016-17 school year from MHSAA member schools for sports in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament:























Competitive Cheer





Cross Country






- 11 player





- 8-player















Ice Hockey

























Swimming & Diving










Track & Field















(A) The first number is the number of schools reporting sponsorship on the Sports Participation Survey. The second number indicates schools sponsoring the sport including primary and secondary schools in cooperative programs as of May 22, 2017. The third number indicates the number of schools that had girls playing on teams consisting primarily of boys.

(B) The second number indicates the number of additional g

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.