Latest NFHS survey shows sports participation continues to rise
There are now 7.8 million prep student-athletes nationwide, up 11,389 from the prior school year.“Overall, we are pleased with this year’s participation report indicating an increase for the 26th consecutive year,” Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director, said in a news release. “And while football participation dropped this past year, the decrease is not that significant when you consider more than 1.1 million boys and girls are involved in the sport at the high school level.
“Despite other out-of-school opportunities that exist in some sports, this year’s survey is yet another confirmation that our model of education-based sports within the high school setting is the No. 1 choice for boys and girls nationwide. We applaud the more than 19,000 high schools across the country for continuing to provide these important programs despite the funding challenges that exist in some areas.”
Here are some of the survey’s highlights:
- Participation in football declined by 9,767 to 1,085,182. Many industry leaders believe greater awareness to head injuries like concussions is causing more parents to prevent their children from playing the sport.
- Girls participation in all sports is up 20,071 while boys participation is down 8,682.
- Competitive spirit squad saw the biggest jump for girls (5,170 new participants), while soccer saw the biggest jump for boys (15,150).
- Growth in lacrosse has slowed. After growing by about 10,000 athletes from 2012-13 to 2013-14, only 4,546 new athletes joined the sport last year.
- Texas remains No. 1 in total high school sports participation, but its lead has decreased. California is only about 7,500 athletes behind in the No. 2 spot.
- Vermont has replaced Wyoming in having the lowest participation of any state, reporting nearly 4,700 fewer athletes last season.
Coach and Athletic Director will have a detailed breakdown of the NFHS’s latest participation survey in its November/December edition.