The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) yesterday released its annual High School Athletics Participation Survey with the news that national high school sports participation had increased in 2011-12 to an all-time high of 7,692,520 participants – an increase of 24,565 from the previous year.
From the NFHS:
An additional 33,984 girls participated in high school sports last year, making the all-time record total 3,207,533. This also marks the 23rd consecutive year for an increase in the number of female participants. Outdoor track and field (468,747), basketball (435,885) and volleyball (418,903) continued to be the top three participatory sports for girls, with volleyball up 9,571 participants from 2010-11.
While girls participation continued to climb, boys participation figures dipped for the first time since the 1992-93 school year, down 9,419 from last year’s number of 4,494,406 to 4,484,987. Seven of the top 10 boys sports registered drops in participation, with 11-player football (1,095,993), outdoor track and field (575,628), basketball (535,289), wrestling (272,149), tennis (159,800), golf (152,725) and swimming and diving (133,823) all down from last year. Baseball (474,219), soccer (411,757) and cross country (248,494) all had increases from the previous year, with soccer registering the largest increase of 13,406.
The drop in football participation was noticed by LA Times writer Eric Sondheimer:
But there also were 12,448 fewer students playing football than the year before and 38 schools stopped playing the sport.
Could it be a sign of trouble brewing?
... Some speculate that all the focus on concussion dangers could be scaring parents and players. Others believe that the era of specialization, where athletes focus on a single sport year round, is taking away players that would have gone out for football. And the growth of lacrosse is giving football players a safer alternative.