Girls playing football, wrestling 2015.07.29

In Michigan high schools last year, there were more girls on wrestling teams than on football teams, but not by a lot.

During the past year of competition, 66 schools had girls on the wrestling team with a total of 88 girls competing. Fifty-nine football teams included at least one girl, and overall, 65 girls suited up for the sport.

Boys golf teams were the second most popular choice for girls with 73 competing at 46 schools, including Morenci. Soccer was next with 56 girls. 

Fourteen girls were on boys basketball teams, 15 on ice hockey teams, 13 on bowling teams, 11 on tennis teams and eight on baseball teams.

Gymnastics is the least popular sport among Michigan high school students, with 618 competing at 75 schools. Girls skiing was second (671 students at 98 schools), followed by eight-player football (685 boys at 38 schools). 

Among boys sports, 39,338 students played 11-man football, 22,439 participated in track and field, 21,401 played basketball and 18,325 played baseball.

Volleyball drew nearly 18,000 girls, followed by track and field (16,855), basketball (15,702) and soccer (13,333).

More than 282,000 students competed in sports sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, representing a decrease of 1.95 percent. However, school enrollment fell by 1.24 percent. Girls participation fell by 2.6 percent.

Girls basketball numbers fell for the ninth straight year to the lowest point since records were first kept in the 1991-92 school year.

Miscellaneous notes in this year’s survey include:

• Eight sports experienced increases in participation in 2014-15 (four boys, four girls), while 20 experienced decreases (10 boys, 10 girls).

• A recent drop in football participation, 11 and 8-player teams combined, has continued to slow, the total this season falling only 1.4 percent to 40,088 athletes. The drop from 2011-12 to 2012-13 was 3.7 percent, and the drop from 2012-13 to 2013-14 was two percent.

• Wrestling had a decrease for the sixth straight year, this season to 9,475 participants, a 7.9-percent drop from 2013-14 with its lowest total since the collection of data began.

• Girls cross country, after five straight years of increases, fell back 4.1 percent, to 8,350 athletes, although that total still represented the third highest of the last seven seasons. The trend was identical for boys cross country, except this season’s total of 8,786 athletes was down only 1.1 percent from a year ago and the second-highest over the seven-season string.

• Boys golf participation fell for the sixth straight season, to 6,533 athletes, its lowest since 1991-92.