399,067 is the lowest since the 1992-93 school year. However, the decrease in girls basketball participation from 430,368 in 2016-17 to 399,067 in 2018-19 is largely attributable to a 25,000 drop in Texas during that two-year period. Dismissing the Texas numbers, girls basketball numbers have been steady in the range of 430,000 for the past seven years.
Four of the top 10 boys sports registered increases in participation, topped by track and field with an additional 5,257 participants. Other top 10 boys sports that added participants last year were soccer (2,715), wrestling (1,877) and tennis (1,163). Among girls top 10 sports, volleyball was the front-runner with an additional 6,225 participants, followed by soccer (3,623) and lacrosse (3,164).
In addition to an increase in girls volleyball and boys wrestling, the sports continued to gain interest across genders. Boys participation in volleyball registered a four percent increase and now has 63,563 participants nationwide, and girls wrestling jumped 27 percent and now has 21,735 participants.
The most significant increases from last year were registered in the adapted and Unified sports programs. The various adapted sports sponsored by schools across the country gained 4,102 participants, while Unified sports participation increased 2,938.
With 1,006,013 participants, 11-player football remains the No. 1 participatory sport for boys in high school by a large margin. Outdoor track and field is No. 2 with 605,354 participants, followed by basketball (540,769), baseball (482,740), soccer (459,077), cross country (269,295), wrestling (247,441), tennis (159,314), golf (143,200) and swimming/diving (136,638).
Outdoor track and field continues to lead the way for girls with 488,267 participants, followed by volleyball (452,808), basketball (399,067), soccer (394,105), fast-pitch softball (362,038), cross country (219,345), tennis (189,436), swimming/diving (173,088), competitive spirit (161,358) and lacrosse (99,750).
While some of the traditional sports such as football, basketball and baseball have remained steady and/or experienced slight declines in the past seven years, other sports have registered significant gains since 2012. Participation in girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse has increased 19 percent during that time with a combined 213,452 participants in 2018-19. Girls and boys soccer gained 70,668 participants since 2012 (a nine percent increase) and now has a combined 853,182 participants nationwide.
Interest in boys volleyball (26 percent gain) and girls volleyball (eight percent gain) has continued to climb the past seven years with totals of 63,563 and 452,808, respectively, in 2018-19. Among girls sports, competitive spirit has increased 38 percent since 2012 with 161,358 participants.
“While we will do everything in our power to regain participation levels in football and other traditional sports, we are thrilled with reports from sports such as volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, competitive spirit and some of the emerging sports,” Niehoff said. “Our ultimate goal is to involve as many students as possible in high school sports and other activity programs.”
This year’s survey indicated participation by high school students in 70 different sports, as well as 14 adapted sports for students with disabilities. Some of the more popular non-traditional sports were bowling (61,291), weightlifting (29,144), badminton (18,162), flag football (12,154) and archery (10,391).
The top 10 states by participants remained the same in 2018-19. Texas and California topped the list again with 825,924 and 824,709 participants, respectively, followed by New York (369,266), Ohio (339,158), Illinois (333,838), Pennsylvania (316,429), Florida (308,173), Michigan (292,947), New Jersey (281,058) and Minnesota (240,487). Only Texas, California and Minnesota reported higher figures than the previous year.
The participation survey has been compiled in its current form by the NFHS since 1971 through numbers it receives from its member state associations. The complete 2018-19 High School Athletics Participation Survey is available here.
Photo courtesy Pop Warner
Article From：SGB Media