The 2011-12 school year marked the fifth straight that attendance at Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason tournaments totaled more than 1.47 million fans – with records set for total attendance at tournaments for six sports.
Total attendance for 2011-12 was 1,479,421 fans, with 1,050,405 at boys tournaments and 429,016 spectators at girls tournaments. Attendance is kept for all sports except golf, skiing and tennis, for which admission typically is not charged.
The previous year, total attendance was 1,522,468 – a five-year high – with 1,090,040 fans at boys tournament events and 432,368 at girls events. The 2011-12 overall attendance figure was the lowest since 2006-07 and represents a 2.8 percent drop from 2010-11, with boys attendance down 3.6 percent but girls attendance down slightly less than one percent.
Twelve sports saw increased tournament attendance last school year from 2010-11: boys soccer (33,399), cross country (19,279) team wrestling (30,415), baseball (47,692), boys lacrosse (7,899), volleyball (99,295), competitive cheer (23,511), girls lacrosse (5,526), girls soccer (26,928) and softball (41,434). Two tournaments at which boys and girls compete simultaneously, bowling (12,346) and track and field (36,904), also saw increases during 2011-12.
Three girls sports set attendance records. Cheer and girls lacrosse each set all-time highs for the eighth consecutive year, with lacrosse’s annual increases dating back to its first year as an MHSAA-sponsored sport in 2005. Volleyball set a high for the fourth straight year despite a slight decrease in District attendance – totals at Regionals, Quarterfinals, Semifinals and the Finals all increased from 2010-11, the Finals total by 27 percent.
The combined bowling tournament also set a record, besting its figure of 12,099 fans in 2009-10, and the track and field tournament set a record for a second straight year, besting the 2010-11 attendance of 36,873. The combined boys and girls cross country tournament bested its 2010-11 record total by nearly 1,000 fans.
Eight more Finals joined volleyball with increases in attendance from 2010-11. Among the most notable, Girls Basketball Finals weekend saw an increase of 9.7 percent, while attendance at Team Wrestling Finals weekend and the Track and Field Finals both were up eight percent from the year before. Finals for cheer, girls soccer, bowling, boys soccer and individual wrestling also saw small increases in 2011-12.
Football again ranked as the most-attended MHSAA tournament, with 427,520 fans. Since playoff expansion occurred in 1999, the football playoffs have been the single most attended tournament series on 10 occasions. Boys basketball was second in 2011-12 attendance with 322,988 fans, and girls basketball was third with 158,481. All three of those sports saw attendance drops from the previous year – football by 4.7 percent, boys basketball by 3.6 percent and girls basketball by five percent. Boys basketball hit a record low for the second straight year. The 2011-12 football attendance, however, was still more than 24,000 fans better than in 2009-10, and girls basketball attendance was roughly 5,000 fans more than in 2008-09.