Rep Council Wrap-Up: Fall 2021

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 9, 2021

The authorization to use digital ticketing for Winter and Spring postseason events, an extension of the waiver for previous academic credit record and an adjustment to regular-season multi-media video regulations were the most notable actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 3 in East Lansing.

Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only a few actions, while the majority of discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter.

The Council approved the continued use of the GoFan digital ticketing system for the MHSAA’s Winter and Spring Tournament events. The MHSAA first began using GoFan digital ticketing during the 2020-21 school year to comply with state contact tracing requirements due to COVID-19, and continued with digital ticketing via that service this fall. Tickets from GoFan are purchased on a phone or other “smart” device, eliminating the exchange of cash and other contact at an event site.

Also due to COVID, and the related challenges of remote learning, the MHSAA had suspended its previous academic credit record rule requiring high school students to pass at least 66 percent of a full credit load during the previous academic term (semester or trimester) in order to be eligible for athletic activity. Middle school and junior high athletes must pass at least 50 percent of a full credit load. Based on member school feedback and input, the Council voted to continue suspension of this rule through the rest of the 2021-22 school year, but reinstate the regulation beginning Aug. 1, 2022. The MHSAA’s previous academic credit record rule serves as a minimum standard; school districts may mandate higher academic requirements for eligibility.

The Council also approved an adjustment to the MHSAA’s video broadcast rules for regular-season events. Previously, those broadcasts could only be delivered to audiences through the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Network, or via a school-controlled webpage or social media page. The Council approved a change to provide an opportunity for schools, for regular-season events only, to allow MHSAA Tournament-credentialed media to broadcast their home events live, as long as a school is a member of the NFHS Network – which includes more than 520 of the MHSAA’s 750 member high schools. Postseason rights continue to belong to the MHSAA and its media partners.

A number of remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data on a number of questions including whether the 11 and 8-Player Football Playoffs should be expanded to include nearly all schools. The Council also discussed questions on sports physicals, classification for postseason tournaments, sports-related summer transportation and contact days for coaches from teams not in season to work with their athletes, among other topics.

The Fall Meeting saw the addition of Ann Arbor Greenhills athletic director Meg Seng and Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy to the 19-person Council. Seng was appointed to a two-year term, and Malloy was appointed to finish the two-year term of former Romulus Summit Academy North athletic director William McCoy, who became part of the MHSAA staff in July. Also, Kris Isom, athletic director at Adrian Madison High School, was appointed to a second two-year term.

The Council reelected Scott Grimes, deputy superintendent 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. Novi High School principal Nicole Carter was elected Council vice president. (Grimes will become Grand Haven Schools’ superintendent Jan. 1.)

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.