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Football remains No. 1 among high school participation

By Joe Frollo Thu, 08/25/2011 - 1:39pm

For the 12th consecutive year, the number of boys playing football in the United States is greater than the combined number of boys playing the second- and third-most popular sports, according to a report by the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS).

The data comes from the 50 state high school athletic associations, plus the District of Columbia, and shows that 7.6 million student-athletes participated in high school sports during the 2010-11 school year, an increase of 39,578 over 2009-10.

In all, 1,134,377 boys at 15,513 high schools played 11-, six-, eight- or nine-player football for their high schools in 2010-11. There also were nearly 6,000 girls who played tackle or flag football.

The next highest participation number for boys was outdoor track and field with 579,302, while basketball was third at 545,844 for a total of 1,125,146.

Football continues to be the only sport with 1 million boys participating, which has been the case for the last decade.

Encompassing all high school sports, there was an increase of 91,000 participatnts in athletic programs for the 2010-11 school year over 2009-10. This marks the 22nd consecutive year that there has been an overall increase in student-athlete athletic participation in high schools, according to the NFHS.

"While the overall increase was not as much as we've seen in the past few years, we are definitely encouraged with these totals given the financial challenges facing our nation's high schools," Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director, said in a press release. "The benefits of education-based athletics at the high school level are well-documented, and we encourage communities throughout the nation to keep these doors of opportunity open.

“Based on the survey, 55.5 percent of students enrolled in high schools participate in athletics, which emphasizes and reinforces the idea that high school sports continue to have a significant role in student involvement in schools across the country."

Top high school sport participation for boys

Football

1,134,377

Outdoor track and field

579,302

Basketball

545,844

Soccer

398,351

Wrestling

273,732

Cross country

246,948

Tennis

161,367

Golf

156,866

Swimming and diving

133,900