High School Sports Participation Increases for 20th Straight Year, from NFHS Survey, Comments by Larry Eder


Since 1989, the numbers in high school sports have continued to grow, with Boys Track and Cross Country and Girls Track & Cross Country always among the top growing sports. In 2009, 789,459 boys participated in outdoor track & field (558,007), and cross country (231,452). On the girls side, 655,931 girls participated in outdoor track & field (457,732) and cross country (198,199). Girls track & field is the largest participatory sport in the girls top ten sports and Boys track & field is the second.


Cross country (shown here on cover of AT&F XC yearbook 2009) continues to
grow in the prep level.

This portends for continued growth in our sport, even as politicians and short-sighted boards of education consider cutting back on after school activities. I will say it again, give teenagers something constructive to do after school: sports, debate, art, music-they must have something. The great thing about cross country and track is that they are two of the lowest budget sports in the high school firmament. Athletics promote good health and a good sense of self worth and they teach you how to be part of a team.

In the pub, Coaching Athletics, I list my high school coaches, in cross country and track: Father Ralph Passerelli, Rich Grawer (my history teacher as a freshman), Jim Marheinecke, Steve Pensinger, Steve Polley, Mr. Ochoa, Fr. Devlin. All had an influence on my lifes' direction. It is in the little things, moments at the end of a workout, after a race, where there is the most benefit.

We will also have a link up on this piece for you to download the entire pdf and see how your state has done in terms of participation. At the end of the day, we need to salute the coaches, ADs and trainers who selflessly give of their time so that another generation of kids (remember, one of two high school kids are in sports) get the benefits of sports. The release from NFHS is listed below, in its' entirety:


High School Sports Participation
Increases for 20th Consecutive Year
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bruce Howard or John Gillis
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (September 15, 2009), Despite cutbacks in funding in many high schools across the country, participation in high school sports has never been higher, increasing for the 20th consecutive year and establishing records for both girls and boys participants.

Based on figures from the 50 state high school athletic/activity associations, plus the District of Columbia, that are members of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), participation for the 2008-09 school year set an all-time high of 7,536,753, according to the 2008-09 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS.

In addition, boys and girls participation figures reached all-time highs, with 3,114,091 girls and 4,422,662 boys participating in 2008-09. The girls figure increased by 56,825 this year, while the boys figure increased by 50,547.

Based on the survey, it was also determined that 55.2 percent of students enrolled in high schools participate in athletics--a slight increase from last year's 54.8 percent.
"Given the state of the economy, this yearís survey makes a great statement about the interest in high school sports in our nation's schools," said NFHS Executive Director Robert F. Kanaby."The record participation levels for boys and girls reflect the fact that participation in high school sports is of great value to our nationi's young people. Also, the survey's results support the NFHS 2008-2011 Strategic Plan, in which the organization vowed to provide stronger leadership and support for high school athletics and fine arts activities."

In addition to its chief task of writing playing rules for high school sports, the NFHS, through its 'Take Part, Get Set for Life' initiative is striving to promote participation and gain awareness and support from state and local governments, media, corporate partners, and especially students and their parents.

Swimming and diving gained the most combined participants in 2008-09, with an increase of 29,967, followed by outdoor track and field with 19,396 and cross country with an additional 18,193 participants. Lacrosse, one of the emerging sports in recent years, had an additional 9,579 participants in 2008-09.

With an increase of 4,017 participants, 11-player football again was No. 1 for boys this year with 1,112,303 participants, followed by track and field (558,007), basketball (545,145), baseball (473,184), soccer (383,824), wrestling (267,378), cross country(231,452), tennis (157,165), golf (157,062) and swimming and diving (130,182).

Outdoor track and field supplanted basketball as the most popular girls sport with 457,732 participants. Basketball was in second place with 444,809 participants, followed by volleyball (404,243), fast pitch softball (368,921), soccer (344,534), cross country (198,199), tennis (177,593), swimming and diving (158,878), competitive spirit squads (117,793) and golf (69,223).

Texas remained the state with the most participants with a combined total of 781,000. California was second with 771,465 participants, followed by New York (380,870), Illinois (341,763), Ohio (330,056), Pennsylvania (321,324), Michigan (311,277), New Jersey (257,798), Florida (242,356) and Minnesota (242,220).

The participation survey has been compiled since 1971 by the NFHS through numbers it receives from its member associations. The complete 2008-09 Participation Survey is available on the NFHS Web site nfhs.org

1. Basketball 17,869
2. Track and Field (Outdoor) 15,936
3. Baseball 15,699
4. Football (11-player) 14,105
5. Cross Country 13,647
6. Golf 13,543
7. Soccer 11,139
8. Wrestling 10,254
9. Tennis 9,499
10. Swimming and Diving 6,556


1. Football (11 player) 1,112,303
2. Track and Field (Outdoor) 558,007
3. Basketball 545,145
4. Baseball 473,184
5. Soccer 383,824
6. Wrestling 267,378
7. Cross Country 231,452
8. Tennis 157,165
9. Golf 157,062
10. Swimming and Diving 130,182

1. Basketball 17,582
2. Track and Field & Outdoor 15,864
3. Softball ñ Fast Pitch 15,172
4. Volleyball 15,069
5. Cross Country 13,457
6. Soccer 10,548
7. Tennis 9,693
8. Golf 9,344
9. Swimming and Diving 6,902
10. Competitive Spirit Squads 4,748


1. Track and Field (Outdoor) 457,732
2. Basketball 444,809
3. Volleyball 404,243
4. Softball, Fast Pitch 368,921
5. Soccer 344,534
6. Cross Country 198,199
7. Tennis 177,593
8. Swimming and Diving 158,878
9. Competitive Spirit Squads 117,793
10. Golf 69,223

This press release was written by Allison Brown, a fall intern in the NFHS Publications/Communications
Department and a senior at Butler (Indiana) University.

# # #

About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and fine arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high
school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more nearly 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including almost 7.5 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; produces
publications for high school coaches, officials and athletic directors; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, spirit coaches, speech and debate coaches and music adjudicators; and serves as a national information
resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS Web site at www.nfhs.org.


Bruce Howard or John Gillis, 317-972-6900
National Federation of State High School Associations
PO Box 690, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206
[email protected] or [email protected]

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