Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year

By Dave Ramont

When you were in high school, do you recall the option to participate in organized bocce, sailing, air riflery or rock climbing? What about squash, rodeo, canoe paddling or ultimate Frisbee? These are some of the non-traditional sports listed in the annual High School Athletics Participation survey, which shows that in 2015-16, the number of participants in high school sports increased for the 27th consecutive year.

The survey has been conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) since 1971, through figures it gathers from its 51 member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia. The record number of total participants reached 7,868,900—up almost 62,000 from the previous year.

It was thought that enrollment numbers in football might drop due to growing concerns over concussions. But after the previous year's decline of 10,000 participants in boy's 11-player football, 2015 was nearly identical to 2014, losing just 309 players. About half the states showed a slight decline in football participation, the other half tallying slight increases. And if you combine the total participation in boys and girls six, eight, nine, and 11-player football, the number of participants rose slightly to 1,114,391.

Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director, said they're very encouraged by the news that football remains quite popular, pointing out that, over the past 10 years, the NFHS and their member state associations have taken significant steps to minimize the risks associated with football and all high school sports. "With the adoption of state laws and protocols for concussion management in place, we continue to believe that the sport of football at the high school level is as safe as it has been since the first rules were written in 1932, and we believe this year's participation report is confirmation of that belief."

Another encouraging statistic revealed that participation in adaptive sports also increased by more than 1,000 participants in 2015-16, reaching 9,491, with schools now offering these programs for students with disabilities in 12 states.

Total numbers show that after declining the previous year, boy's participation rose by 25,000—hitting an all-time high of 4,544,574. Girl's participation climbed nearly 37,000, increasing for the 27th straight year and reaching a record 3,324,326.

The top 10 boys' sports in terms of participants were as follows: football (11-player), track and field (outdoor), basketball, baseball, soccer, cross country, wrestling, tennis, golf, swimming and diving. The largest increases in participants were in track and field, soccer, cross country, basketball and baseball. Wrestling registered a decline of 7,555 participants.

The girls, however, showed an increase in wrestling numbers, adding 2,000 participants. Their top 10 sports remained the same as the previous year: track and field (outdoor), volleyball, basketball, soccer, softball (fast-pitch), cross country, tennis, swimming and diving, competitive spirit squads and lacrosse.

Texas topped the list of participants with 809,075, followed by California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, New Jersey and Minnesota.

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

Study Shows High Obesity Rates Among Student Athletes - September 2016

Forest Service Celebrates 100-Year-Old Campground - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - September 2016

Study Shows Artificial Turf Composition Influences Injury Prevention - August 2016

Council Announces Release of Second Edition of Model Aquatic Health Code - August 2016

Study Finds Seniors, Women Less Likely to Use Parks - August 2016

Level Up Your Park With Pokémon Go - August 2016

Research Shows Light Pollution's Impact on Night Sky - July 2016

Trail-Oriented Development Eases Congestion, Encourages Activity - July 2016

Nonprofits Aim to Boost Inclusive Fitness Opportunities - July 2016

Research Shows Benefits of Nature for Older Adults - June 2016

Destination Play Comes to Draper, Utah - June 2016

New Report Breaks Down the Data on City Parks - June 2016

Virtual Reality, Immersion & Interaction Lead Amusement Park Trends in 2016 - June 2016

National Leaders Team Up to Promote Physical Activity Plan - May 2016

Growing Economic Confidence Means More Visitors for Attractions Industry - May 2016

SHAPE America Recognizes Just Dance School of the Year - May 2016

Surgeon General Visits Gregory Gym in Austin - May 2016

Are States Dropping the Ball on Keeping Kids Active? - April 2016

U.S. Masters Swimming Campaigns to Reduce Adult Drowning - April 2016

Grants for Urban Outdoor Recreation Available - April 2016

Physical Education Program Grant Competition Opens - April 2016

Nature Play Comes to Wildwood - March 2016

Miracle Swimming Opens First Pool Dedicated to Those With Water Fears - March 2016

Managing Concussion Risk: Communities Switch From Contact to Flag Football - March 2016

Gallup Study Looks at Long-Term Well-Being of Former Student Athletes - March 2016

Purdue University Simplifies & Boosts Security - February 2016

Fitness Fosters Better Mental Health - February 2016

Restricting Diving May Have Little to Do With Preventing Injury, Study Says - February 2016

National Parks Work to Protect Bats and Their Habitats - February 2016

USTA Helps Communities Boost Tennis Participation - February 2016

Organizations Aim to Clarify Dangers of Hypoxic Blackout - January 2016

NRPA Receives Grant to Celebrate Those Advancing Health Equity - January 2016

Expanding Education on Concussion in Sports - January 2016

Omnibus Budget Boosts Funding for National Parks, Extends LWCF - January 2016

NRPA Study Shows Local Parks Have Significant Economic Impact in All 50 States - December 2015

ACA to Launch Training for Camps Serving Youth With Chronic Illness - November 2015

ACSM, PRIVIT Aim to Promote Athlete Health & Safety - November 2015

Veterans Earn Scholarships Toward Fitness Careers - November 2015

Pediatricians Tackle Youth Football Injuries - October 2015

2015 State of Obesity Report Suggests Policies for Improving Health - October 2015