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MHSAA tournament participation tops 300,000 again

Published 8:20pm Tuesday, July 13, 2010

EAST LANSING – A good sign of the value schools place in their extracurricular athletic programs was revealed during the 2009-10 school year as participation numbers for sports in which post-season tournaments are sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association topped the 300,000 mark for the sixth consecutive year despite declining student enrollments.

Student enrollments at MHSAA member schools were down by 2.7 percent for the past school year, but the total participation figure of 301,833 was down only 0.8 percent from the previous season, and is still the sixth highest in the Association’s history.  Girls participation was down 0.4 percent from a year ago with 125,856 – its lowest point since 2003-04; and the boys total of 175,977 was down 1.1 percent – its lowest point since 2003-04.

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.

Records for participation were set in seven sports – four for boys and three for girls. Bowling and lacrosse again set new marks for both boys and girls; boys and girls cross country figures were both at an all-time high; and boys swimming and diving also set a new record.

Fall participation again took the biggest single season drop at 1.3 percent from the previous year; winter numbers were down only 0.2 percent; and while the spring figures were off 0.9 percent from 2008-09, that season displaced the fall as time of year with the most participation for the first time.

There were 112,409 participants in spring sports in 2009-10, compared to 111,937 fall participants. Since the 2006-07 survey, fall participation is down 9.6 percent, winter sports are down 6.8 percent, while spring is up 2.6 percent.

Overall participation is down 3.6 percent since the 2006-07 survey – 3.1 percent for boys and 4.3 percent for girls – and enrollments are down 4.1 percent in that same time period – equally split between boys and girls.

Also of note in this year’s survey in other sports of interest:

• Girls cross country continued its upward surge, its new mark of 7,925 is up 3.8 percent over the previous year, and participation in the sport is up 10.8 percent since 2006-07.
• Girls volleyball participation saw a 2.9 percent drop in 2009-10 the lowest it has been since the 1995-96 school year.  Since the 2006-07 survey, volleyball participation has dropped 6.3 percent.

• Boys tennis slipped to its lowest participation total since 1997-98.  Its losses since 2006-07 are the highest in terms of percentage of any sport at 14.4 percent.  By comparison, girls tennis participation is up 1.7 percent in the same time period.

• Girls golf figures dropped 6.9 percent during the past school year, and the sport is down by that same number – 6.9 percent – since 2006-07.  Boys golf was down 1.4 percent in participation in 2009-10 and is off 2.3 percent since 2006-07.

• After stable participation numbers from 2007-08 to 2008-09, basketball figures dropped 2.9 percent for boys and 3.3 percent for girls in 2009-10; hitting the lowest point for both since the Association began tracking the numbers in 1991-92.  Since the 2006-07 survey, girls participation is down 8.2 percent and the boys number is down 6.4 percent.

• All told, 13 sports had increases in participation in 2009-10 (7 boys-6 girls) and 15 sports had drops (7 boys-8 girls).  Since the 2006-07 survey, 8 sports have higher participation marks (5 boys-3 girls) and 20 sports have seen decreased participation (9 boys-11 girls).

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