Michigan Prep Sports Participation Numbers Fairly Steady

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Overall participation in Michigan prep sports remained fairly stable this school year, despite a shakeup in scheduling sparked by a court order.
Overall participation in 2007-08 fell 1.97 percent in sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association runs postseason tournaments, the group said Monday. Participation in girls sports dropped 2.8 percent from the prior year, while participation in boys sports dropped 1.4 percent.
Spring sports participation was down about 1 percent.
The MHSAA hasn't drawn conclusions from the effects of schedule changes caused by a federal court ruling. This was the first year of the new schedule, which included flipping the girl's basketball and volleyball seasons to conform with the schedule used in colleges and most of the nation's high schools.
"We're letting the numbers speak for themselves," MHSAA spokesman John Johnson said. "It is our hope schools will continue to do everything they can do to keep participation levels high."
The MHSAA reports 306,924 participants this school year. The total counts students once for each sport in which he or she participates, meaning students who are multiple-sport athletes are counted more than once.
Overall participation has topped 300,000 four straight years, despite falling enrollment at many of Michigan's high schools.
While overall numbers remained steady, a few sports saw significant changes in participation rates -- particularly in the fall. Participation in girls cross country rose 15.2 percent, while participation in girls Lower Peninsula golf fell almost 9 percent. Participation in boys Lower Peninsula tennis fell 11.4 percent.
Participation for girls volleyball, which moved from winter to fall, was down 3.1 percent. Participation for girls basketball, moved from fall to winter, fell 3.6 percent.
Prep sports scheduling changes were made for this school year in the aftermath of a lengthy court fight that began in 1998. A group called Communities for Equity sued the MHSAA, saying some of its season scheduling practices discriminated against girls.
The MHSAA opposed the changes.

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