Rep Council Wrap-Up: Fall 2017

December 7, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A change in format for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Baseball Tournament was among notable actions taken by the Representative Council during its annual Fall Meeting, Dec. 1 in East Lansing, in addition to MHSAA basketball schedule changes for 2018-19 announced in a previous release Dec. 4.

Beginning with the 2019 tournament, baseball will move from its current one-day Saturday Regional and Quarterfinal the following Tuesday to a two-day “Super Regional” format. The Super Regional will begin with a Regional Semifinal on the Wednesday following District Finals, followed by two Regional Finals at the same site on Saturday. The winners of those two Regional Finals will then meet that same Saturday in a Super Regional championship game, with Super Regional winners then moving on directly to MHSAA Semifinals the following Thursday and Friday. 

Both Regional champions will continue to receive trophies. No trophy will be awarded for the Super Regional champion. The MHSAA Softball Tournament, which runs concurrently with baseball’s event, will continue with the traditional schedule of Saturday Regionals followed by Tuesday Quarterfinals and then Semifinals and Finals the final weekend of the season. 

The change for baseball is intended to provide teams more opportunities to use their top pitchers in the most meaningful games of the season, and was proposed by the MHSAA Baseball Committee prior to the Representative Council’s May 2017 meeting. However, the proposal was tabled at that time to give MHSAA staff an opportunity to observe how a new pitch-count rule – mandated to begin with the 2017 season by the National Federation of State High School Associations – might figure into possible changes to the tournament schedule. 

The Council also took action in 8-player football, following up its decisions at earlier 2017 meetings to add a second division of playoffs and play this past season’s Finals at the Superior Dome in Marquette.

The Council’s latest actions dealt with schools’ eligibility to compete in the postseason. The Council voted to continue using the maximum enrollment for a Class D school as the limit to participate in the MHSAA 8-Player Football Playoffs. However, the Council also approved an allowance for schools that sponsored 8-player with a Class D enrollment one year to remain eligible for the 8-Player Playoffs the next year even if the school’s enrollment rises above the Class D limit. That allowance lasts only one year; the school’s enrollment must fall back below the Class D limit after for it to remain eligible for the 8-player postseason. 

Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and actions during its meetings in winter and spring. 

The Council began conversation on a possible MHSAA role providing assistance to schools for scheduling regular-season football games, a task often cited as among the most difficult for administrators and especially those whose programs are among the most successful. The Council considered approaches used in other states and two options of what could be done to assist MHSAA member schools. A trial run paper study will be conducted for scheduling 8-player football for the 2018 season, distributed to Class D 8-player schools in April. The study will consider an option where schools would be split into two equal divisions, then four regions per division, from which each school would then schedule seven of its nine games for the upcoming season while leaving the other two dates open to play schools from other regions, the other division or other states. 

Following up its request of staff at the May meeting to conduct a review of the MHSAA transfer rule, the Council discussed possible revisions to the rule that would make it sport-specific. The changes would allow for immediate eligibility for a transfer student in sports he or she had not participated in at the high school level prior to the transfer – which is more lenient than the current rule – but also stipulate a one-year period of ineligibility in those sports the transfer student had played in at the high school level during the school year prior to transferring, which is a longer period of ineligibility than currently required. The possibility of a sport-specific transfer rule has been discussed at league meetings and athletic director in-service and MHSAA UPDATE meetings over the last six months and will continue to be discussed at multiple venues this winter including the League Leadership meeting and Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association conference, with a possible Council vote at its 2018 March or May meetings. 

The Council as well continued its recent work on junior high/middle school athletics, examining survey results and other discussion on the possibility of allowing athletes in any sport except football to participate in a maximum of two non-school events during the school season in that sport, after tabling in May a Junior High/Middle School Committee recommendation to approve that proposal. The Council also discussed increasing the number of contests allowed each season and adding more MHSAA sponsored events at the junior high/middle school level, with action on all three topics possible in March or May. 

In addition, the Council discussed the potential for beginning volleyball season two days earlier and also ending it seven days earlier, supported by 90 percent of athletic directors who responded to a survey on the topic but opposed by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association; and continued an ongoing discussion of options for potentially seeding basketball at the District level. The Council also began discourse on the process for identifying potential athletic programs and additional student populations the MHSAA could serve during the decade ahead.

The Fall Meeting saw the addition of Justin Jennings, superintendent for Muskegon Public Schools, to the 19-person Council. He was appointed to a two-year term. Jennings fills the position formerly held by Cheri Meier, assistant superintendent for Okemos Public Schools, whose term ended. Also, Courtney Hawkins, athletic director at Flint Beecher High School, was re-appointed for a second two-year term.
The Council re-elected Scott Grimes, assistant superintendent of human services for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Saginaw Heritage athletic director Pete Ryan was elected as vice president.
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.

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.