California sees decline in prep football participation

August 9, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Participation in high school sports across California is on the rise, but the same can’t be said for football.

California Interscholastic Federation
California Interscholastic Federation

The California Interscholastic Federation recently released its participation numbers, showing that high school football decreased by 3,520 participants to 100,205 — a 3.4% decline. That’s the sport’s lowest participation since 2005, according to the L.A. Times.

This comes at a time when California’s overall high school sports participation is at an all-time high (779,256). It’s widely believed that concerns over head injuries are causing more parents to keep their children from playing football, and participation numbers seem to support that theory.

From the CIF:

“Winning and losing in education-based athletics cannot, and must not, be the defining moment and purpose of CIF,” stated CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake “The continued growth in education-based athletic participation means that more students than before are learning the life-long lessons achieved through high school sports.”

Along with the overall participation increase in high school athletics there were a few sports that saw noticeable increases across both genders. Volleyball saw the largest percentage increase, a combined 5.59% or 3,260 more participants (3.93% or 1,640 increase for girls; 9.79% or 1,620 for boys), followed by soccer with a 5.24% increase or 4,928 more participants (4.39% or 1,969 increase for girls; 6.0% or 2,959 increase for boys). Additionally, girls’ wrestling participation continues to increase, this year by 48.1% as 1,334 more girls are competing in the sport for 4,105 total participants as of 2016.

Football still stands as the state’s most popular sport, and this year’s decrease was the first since 2013.

Each year, the National Federation of State High School Associations releases nationwide participation numbers, and California’s survey provides a small glimpse of what’s in store. Last year’s survey showed that participation in prep football was down more than 10,000 athletes across the country.

Click here for more on the CIF’s participation numbers.

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