EAST LANSING — For the fourth straight year, Michigan ranked seventh nationally in high school sports participation, according to statistics for the 2011-12 school year released recently by the National Federation of State High School Associations. That level of participation continued to best Michigan’s national ranking for total number of residents of high school age.
Michigan’s participation ranking was based on a number of 308,080, with 131,346 girls and 176,734 boys taking part, and included sports in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association does not conduct postseason tournaments. The totals count students once for each sport in which he or she participates, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once.
Michigan girls participation fell one spot to seventh nationally after two straight years at sixth, while the boys participation figure again ranked sixth. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures from 2011, Michigan continues to rank eighth in both females and males of ages 14 through 17. Girls participation also ranked seventh in 2008-09.
Three sports moved up in their rankings, while seven fell — but none more than one spot. Total, Michigan ranked eighth or higher nationally in participation in 24 of the 28 sports in which the MHSAA conducts a postseason tournament (not counting separately 8-player football).
Girls basketball and golf both rose in 2011-12, basketball to sixth and golf to fifth. Girls tennis held steady in third place, with participation in bowling, volleyball and skiing again ranked fourth. Softball and track and field remained seventh, soccer and swimming and diving both stayed at eighth, and lacrosse stayed at 12th nationally. Girls cross country, gymnastics and competitive cheer all fell one spot — cross country to seventh, cheer to fifth and gymnastics to 12th.
Nine boys sports remained in the same spots nationally, and one — wrestling — moved up one spot, to fifth. Boys bowling stayed constant at third, as did skiing and ice hockey in fourth, 11-player football and tennis in fifth, track and field and golf in sixth, baseball in seventh and cross country in ninth in their respective sport rankings. Boys Basketball fell one spot to sixth, with boys lacrosse falling one to eighth and boys soccer and swimming and diving both moving down one spot to ninth on those lists. Last school year also was the third the MHSAA has had 8-player football, and Michigan ranked 14th of 16 states for participation in that spot.
National participation in high school sports in 2011-12 set a new record again with 7,692,520 students taking part. While boys participation nationally fell 9,419 students from 2010-11, girls participation rose 33,984 students for a record total of 3,207,533.
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 approximately 1.6 million spectators each year.