HS Sports Participation Reaches All-Time High

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 A survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations found that more high school-aged students than ever before are participating in high school sports.

The 2016-17 High School Athletics Participation Survey revealed that the number of participants grew for the 28th consecutive year. The number of high school students playing sports has reached 7,963,535, based on data from 51 NFHS member state high school associations. That number represents an increase of 94,635 over the 2015-16 survey data, making it the largest one-year participation spike since 2008-09.

Increased girls’ participation accounted for the largest portion of the growth. The survey found the largest one-year growth in girls’ participation in 16 years. Overall, 75,971 more girls participated in sports in the 2016-17 survey over the previous year.

Among girls, the largest participation gains were in competitive spirit, with 18,712 more participants over last year. Outdoor track and field, volleyball, soccer and lacrosse also saw participation increases in excess of 5,400 each. Each of the top ten participatory sports for girls saw gains over the prior year.

On the boys side, seven of the top ten sports saw participation increases. The largest gainers for boys were soccer, outdoor track and field and cross country. Despite losses in football, 18,664 more boys were playing some sport in 2016-17.

Perhaps not surprisingly, all forms of football, including 11-player, 9-player, 8-player or 6-player, saw decreased participation in the survey compared to the previous year. However, football remains the top participatory sport for boys, and 63 more schools offered some form of the sport. “While we are concerned when any sport experiences a decline in participation, the numbers do not substantiate that schools are dropping the sport of football,” NFHS executive director Bob Garnder said in a release. “The NFHS and its member state high school associations have worked hard to reduce the risk of injury in high school football, and we are pleased at the continued strength of the sport across the country.”

You can check out the complete survey data here.

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