MHSAA: Participation declines

LANSING – The Michigan High School Athletic Association reports prep sports participation is down for the second consecutive school year but the downward trend is in parallel with declining enrollment in its members schools.

MHSAA records indicate 293,810 participants took part in the 28 tournament sports it offers, down 1.2 percent from 2011-12.

However, the MHSAA’s member school declined in enrollment by a combined 1.1 percent over the same span. Girls participating was down 1.3 percentage, slightly less than the statewide enrollment drop, while boys’ numbers indicated a 1.1 percent participation decline, slightly more than the 0.8 percent enrollment decline.

Since 2006-07, enrollment at MHSAA member schools is down 9.3 percent but participation is down only 6.2.

MHSAA totals count multi-sport athletes for each sport in which they participate.

Girls’ basketball continued a participation decline, dropping to 16,550 players statewide, the lowest total since the organization began recording in 1991-92. The total is down 13.5 percent since the 2007 decision to move the sport to winter to comply with the settlement of a gender equity suit.

Volleyball, which switched seasons with girls’ basketball, dropped 2.5 percent in the last year to 19,905 athletes. It is down 7.6 percent since its last season as a winter sport (2007).

The biggest gainers were lacrosse and cross country. Lacrosse has been up in each of the nine seasons in which the MHSAA has offered a tournament, while both boys’ and girls’ cross country set records last season and have been up for four years running. Boys’ participation in cross country is up 11.2 percent over the last seven years.

Other sports with participation increases were boys’ basketball, baseball and girls’ track and field.