Local high school bowlers compete in the 2019 Oakland County bowling tournament. In Michigan, the number of athletes participating in boys bowling ranked second nationally in 2018-19.

Local high school bowlers compete in the 2019 Oakland County bowling tournament. In Michigan, the number of athletes participating in boys bowling ranked second nationally in 2018-19.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Michigan ranked in top 10 nationally among high school sports participants

By: Jacob Herbert | C&G Newspapers | Published September 6, 2019

 Local girls track and field athletes compete in a regional tournament hosted by Warren Mott this past spring. During the 2018-19 season, girls track in Michigan ranked seventh nationally in terms of participation.

Local girls track and field athletes compete in a regional tournament hosted by Warren Mott this past spring. During the 2018-19 season, girls track in Michigan ranked seventh nationally in terms of participation.

Photo by Sean Work

METRO DETROIT — The Michigan High School Athletic Association recently released its participation numbers from the 2018-19 season. For the third straight year, Michigan had the eighth-most participants in high school sports nationally, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Topping the list was Texas with 825,924 participants, followed by California (824,709), New York (369,266), Ohio (339,158), Illinois (333,838), Pennsylvania (316,429) and Florida (308,173).

Michigan’s total participants (292,947) were split between 126,342 girls and 166,605 boys. Those numbers count students once for each sport. So multisport athletes are counted more than once depending on how many sports they play.

After moving one spot up to seventh after the 2017-18 season, the national ranking of male participants fell back to eighth last season, and female participants stayed in eighth for the third straight year.

In Michigan, a total of 19 sports exceeded the state’s eighth overall ranking by placing seventh or higher on their respective lists. Four Michigan sports improved upon their previous year, while the state fell in the rankings in five different sports.

Boys bowling led the way in terms of gaining participants and is now ranked second nationally. The last time Michigan ranked that high in boys bowling was 2013-14. Boys tennis also saw a rise in the rankings and is now fifth.

As for other boys sports in Michigan, baseball ranked eighth overall, basketball was seventh, cross country was seventh, golf  was sixth, ice hockey was fourth, skiing was third, track and field was seventh, lacrosse was ninth, 11- and eight-player football were sixth and seventh, respectively, and soccer was 10th.

Among girls sports, track and field moved up one spot to seventh and lacrosse moved up one spot to 13th after falling back to 14th in 2017-18.

Girls volleyball ranked fifth nationally, golf was sixth, competitive cheer was sixth, basketball was sixth, bowling was fourth, cross country was seventh, skiing was third, softball was seventh, tennis was third, soccer was ninth, swimming and diving was ninth, and gymnastics was 11th.

For the first time in 30 years, the national number of high school participants fell. Despite the drop, the nationwide total of 7,937,491 still ranked third highest all-time.

Football, while dealing with a 5.8% drop from 2017-18 to last season, remained the most-played sport in the United States with 1,006,013 athletes suiting up each week.

Also nationally, girls volleyball experienced the largest increase last season as 6,225 more girls played than the previous season. Other notable improvements were boys track and field (up 5,257 participants), girls soccer (3,623) and girls lacrosse (3,164).