Use of Participation Fees Falls Slightly

July 29, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The percentage of Michigan High School Athletic Association high schools that assessed participation fees to help fund interscholastic athletics dropped five percent during the 2014-15 school year to its lowest since 2011-12, according to the most recent survey taken by the MHSAA – although the ratio of schools assessing fees remained above 50 percent of respondents for the fifth straight year.

A total of 522 high schools – or 69 percent of the MHSAA membership – responded to the 2014-15 survey for the highest feedback rate since 2010-11. A total of 269 high schools, or 51.5 percent that took the survey, charged fees this school year, compared to 56.6 percent of schools that responded in 2013-14.

There were 753 senior high schools in the MHSAA membership in 2014-15. This was the 11th survey of schools since the 2003-04 school year, when members reported fees were being charged by 24 percent of schools. The percentage of member schools charging fees crossed 50 percent in 2010-11 and remained at 50.5 percent in 2011-12 before making a nearly five-percent jump three school years ago. 

The largest drop of those charging fees in 2014-15 came at Class B schools, with 52 percent reporting fees after 62 percent reported using them in 2013-14. Class A schools saw a seven-percent decrease to 70 percent with fees, and Class D schools saw a four-percent decrease to 35 percent that assessed. Class C schools saw a one-percent increase to 47 percent assessing for participation.

Charging a standardized fee for each team on which a student-athletes participates – regardless of the number of teams – remains the most popular method among schools assessing fees, although that rate fell slightly from 41 percent of schools assessing during 2013-14 to 39 percent this school year. Schools charging a one-time standardized fee per student-athlete also fell, from 33 to 28 percent of schools that assess fees. The survey showed a slight increase in schools assessing fees based on tiers of the number of sports a student-athlete plays (for example, charging a larger fee for the first team and less for additional sports). There also was a slight increase in fees being assessed based on the specific sport being played.

The median fee by schools that charged student-athletes per sport did drop $10 to $75. Other fees remained consistent from the 2013-14 school year: the median one-time student fee at $100, the median annual maximum fee per student at $150 and the median annual maximum family fee at $300.

The survey for 2014-15 and surveys from previous years can be found on the MHSAA Website by clicking here.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,400 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.