By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The 2012-13 school year marked the sixth straight that attendance at Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason tournaments totaled more than 1.43 million fans, with attendance at girls tournaments topping 430,000 for the fourth straight year.
Total attendance for 2012-13 was 1,433,356 fans, with 1,002,663 at boys tournaments and 430,693 spectators at girls tournaments. Attendance is kept for all sports except golf, skiing and tennis, for which admission typically is not charged.
Girls tournament attendance first topped 400,000 for a school year in 2008-09, then rose over 430,000 for the first time the following year. Helping fuel the total in 2012-13 was a record crowd of 25,290 for competitive cheer (District, Regional and Final rounds combined), and also a record attendance of 12,508 for the girls and boys bowling tournament.
Total attendance did dip slightly in 2012-13, down from 1,479,152 the year before, a drop of 3.1 percent and the lowest since 2006-07. However, four sports joined cheer and bowling with attendance increases from 2011-12 – girls basketball up 4.8 percent to 166,153 fans, gymnastics up 16.8 percent to 2,290, team wrestling up 1.2 percent to 28,863 and ice hockey up 6.5 percent with 59,037 fans this past season.
Football again was the most attended tournament for the sixth consecutive year with 397,944 fans in 2012 – although that represented a 7.3 percent drop from the 2011 playoffs. However, the Regional (5.6 percent) and Semifinal (6.3) rounds both saw increases in fans from the previous season.
Similarly, boys basketball again was second in attendance with 318,325 fans, despite a 1.4 percent decrease from 2011-12. However, the District, Regional and Quarterfinal rounds showed a combined increase of 2.4 percent over the previous season. Girls basketball attendance increased in every round from 2011-12 for an overall increase of 4.8 percent. The Finals weekend total, including semifinals and championship games for each class, was 19,003, the highest since 1992-93.
Girls lacrosse total attendance dropped 9.7 percent to 5,009 fans, but still totaled its second most as an MHSAA sport and set records for Semifinals (1,027) and Finals (1,171) attendance. Volleyball attendance (96,151) remained above 96,000 fans for the fourth consecutive year despite falling 3.2 percent from its 2011-12 record high. Girls soccer dropped less than half a percent from 2011-12 to 26,836 fans, but set a Regional round record with 10,574.