Nearly 43 percent of athletes at Michigan High School Athletic Association member high schools continued to participate in two or more sports in 2018-19, according to the Multi-Sport Participation Survey, reinforcing similar data collected for the first time two years ago and providing a foundation for work by the MHSAA’s Multi-Sport Task Force as it prepares to continue efforts this fall to promote the multi-sport high school experience.

Early and intense sport specialization has become one of the most serious issues related to health and safety at all levels of youth sports, as overuse injuries and burnout among athletes have been tied to chronic injuries and health-related problems later in life.

The multi-sport participation survey was created in 2018 to provide data on the prevalence of sport specialization at MHSAA member high schools. This year’s survey received responses from 82.9 percent of member high schools and measured how multi-sport participation exists at schools.

From schools that responded to this year’s survey, 42.9 percent of students participated in athletics in 2018-19 – 46.3 percent of boys and 39.5 percent of girls.

Of those athletes counted by responding schools, 43 percent participated in more than one sport – including 45.1 percent of boys and 40.4 percent of girls – with all three of those percentages nearly identical to those derived from the first survey a year ago. Class D again enjoyed the highest percentage of multi-sport athletes, 61.8 percent, followed by Class C (56.7), Class B (48.7) and Class A (35.4).