High school sports participation drops 4% nationally in first survey since 2018-19

The first national participation survey in three years for high school sports showed a decline of 4% across the country with football participation levels also declining, according to the National Federation of State High School Assns.

The last participation survey was conducted in 2018-19. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, seasons were disrupted and the surveys halted. In this latest survey for 2020-21, there were 7,618,054 participants in high school sports, down from 7,937,491 in 2018-19.

Boys 11-man football declined 3% from 1,006,013 to 973,792. There was an increase for 6-, 8- or 9-player football.

Among the top 10 boys sports, golf was the only sport to increase in participation by 4%. Golf also increased among girls.

Soccer moved past basketball to No. 3 in popularity among girls behind only track and field and volleyball.

Texas has the most participants with 846,161. California is No. 2 at 762,823 despite a drop of more than 60,000 students from three years ago.

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