The benchmark was not surprising.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association continued to emphasize the benefits of playing multiple sports, releasing results from its first survey to find out how many Michigan high school athletes play multiple sports.
More than 40 percent of Michigan high school athletes play multiple sports, with the percentages rising as enrollment decreases. From the 79.9 percent of the member schools that responded, the association learned that 42.8 percent of the athletes played multiple sports, 44.6 percent of the boys and 40.6 percent of the girls.
"I was really a lot of what we expected, but I don't think we knew what the exact number was going to be," MHSAA spokesman Geoff Kimmerly said. "What it does though is give us a benchmark to see what type of progress we're making in the future."
The percentages rose as enrollment decreased. In Class A, 36 percent of the athletes play multiple sports. In Class B, it goes up to 46.7 percent with Class C at 52.2 percent and Class D at 58.1 percent.
"Even when you split up the class, like we did with Class A, enrollment tends to bear out the same trend even within the class," Kimmerly said. "For small schools, you need multi-sport athletes to fill out teams and there are more opportunities available to play multiple sports. And in smaller communities, high school sports is such an important part of those communities."
In Class A, two schools had more than 80 percent of its athletes playing multiple sports, with Marquette at 82.6 percent. In Class B, Birch Run had the largest percent at 87.1, with Gladstone at 83.8 percent.
Thirteen Class C schools had more than 80 percent of its athletes play multiple sports, with Ubly topping the list at more than 90 percent.
Four Class D schools had more than 90 percent of its athletes playing multiple sports, led by Brethren (95.4), followed by DeTour (94.3), Jackson Christian (91.7) and Waterford Our Ladey (90.8).
"This is an effort that is not going away ... it's something that (MHSAA executive director) Jack Roberts feels strongly about and something the people following him feel strongly about.
"There's a lot of research out there that shows early and intense specialization leads to a lot of health problems later on, not just overuse injuries. Playing multiple sports increases an athlete's range of motion, tones more muscles, helps avoid injuries.
"We're looking at high school athletes, but we have to get the message to the younger athletes and their parents."