MHSAA News

MHSAA News

Participation Data Published for Abbreviated 2019-20 School Year

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

April 26, 2021

Data collected from Michigan High School Athletic Association schools for the annual national participation study has been published, noting that comparisons of overall participation and Spring sports data to past years must include the context that Spring sports teams had not begun competition before sports were halted March 16, 2020, and eventually canceled, and that reporting for those sports may be incomplete.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) did not publish results of its national survey for the 2019-20 school year. However, the data collected for MHSAA sports has been posted to the MHSAA Website; results from the 2000-01 school year to present may be viewed at www.mhsaa.com by clicking on Schools > Administrators > Sports Participation Listing.

A total of 274,126 participants competed or had begun practices in MHSAA-sponsored sports during the 2019-20 school year. The overall MHSAA participation totals count students once for each sport in which they participate, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once.

Boys participation fell 2.7 percent to 157,323, and girls participation also decreased, by three percent to 116,803. However, both measures include totals received for Spring sports, which saw reduced participation reported in eight of nine sports offered and the majority by significant percentages indicating the effect of the COVID-19 stoppage.

However, data collected for the Fall and Winter revealed mostly consistent comparisons with eight sports showing increases in participation from 2018-19 and 11 showing decreases (not counting girls tennis, which is played in Fall in the Upper Peninsula but by the great majority of the state’s teams in the Lower Peninsula during Spring). Girls and boys bowling both set participation records with the girls total of 3,134 athletes up 1.3 percent over the previous season and the boys total of 4,495 up 3.8 percent over 2018-19.

Girls alpine skiing and wrestling enjoyed the second-largest percentage increases in participation in 2019-20 of three percent each, girls skiing to 786 athletes (the sport’s most since 2004-05) and wrestling to 9,777 participants. Volleyball bounced back from a dip in 2018-19 with an increase of nearly a percent to 19,248 participants, and boys swimming & diving similarly bounced back with a 1.1-percent increase to 5,059 participants. Girls golf (0.6 percent, 3,610 total participants) and boys tennis (1.3 percent, 6,339 athletes) also saw increases despite Upper Peninsula seasons in those sports not being played. Girls lacrosse, with 3,224 participants, was up 1.4 percent and set a record despite the sport being halted prior to the start of competition.

Of the 11 Fall and Winter sports that saw decreases in participation from 2018-19, eight were by 1.6 percent or less. Football, with 34,339 participants during the 2019 season, remained the most-played sport despite a 3-percent decrease from the previous year. Boys track & field (21,650) and boys basketball (21,016) had the next-highest totals of participants reported. Volleyball (19,248) remained the most popular girls sport by participation, followed by girls track & field (16,274) and girls basketball (15,133).

The following chart shows participation figures for the 2019-20 school year from MHSAA member schools for sports in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament:


 

BOYS


GIRLS


Sport


Schools (A)


Participants


Schools (A)


Participants (B)


Baseball


658/4


16,455


-


0/4


Basketball


737/3


21,005


729


15,133/11


Bowling


418/15


4,469


407


3,134/26


Competitive Cheer


-


-


361


6,567


Cross Country


671/2


9,457


669


8,066/11


Football - 11 player


560/87


32,628


-


0/100


                  8-player


93/16


1,591


-


0/20


Golf


531/66


5,729


351


3,610/132


Gymnastics


-


-


102


666


Ice Hockey


295/10


3,261


-


315/11


Lacrosse


171/10


5,305


122


3,224/14


Skiing


116/2


916


114


786/3


Soccer


503/16


14,195


484


12,429/69


Softball


-


-


648


12,657


Swimming & Diving


274/22


4,987


273


5,474/72


Tennis


310/18


6,304


340


8,621/35


Track & Field


696/1


21,645


694


16,274/5


Volleyball


-


-


720


19,248


Wrestling


492/216


9,376


-


0/401

(A) The first number is the number of schools reporting sponsorship on the Sports Participation Survey, including primary and secondary schools in cooperative programs as of May 15, 2020. The second number indicates the number of schools that had girls playing on teams consisting primarily of boys.

(B) The second number indicates the number of additional girls playing on teams consisting primarily of boys and entered in boys competition.

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.