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Football Remains No. 1 High School Participation Sport and Continues to Grow

Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 by AFCA

Football Remains No. 1 High School Participation Sport and Continues to Grow

By Steve Alic

April 13, 2010, revised April 13, 2010


According to figures from the past three annual high school athletics participation surveys conducted by the NFHS, the number of boys playing high school football more than doubles the next-played sport.

According to figures from the past three annual high school athletics participation surveys conducted by the NFHS, the number of boys playing high school football more than doubles the next-played sport.

According to figures from the past three annual high school athletics participation surveys conducted by the NFHS, the number of boys playing high school football more than doubles the next-played sport.

In a world full of advertising claims, truth can be a challenge to decipher. And although some truths are clearly evident, they're worth repeating.

George Washington was our country's first president.

The Louisiana Purchase was made in 1803.

More high school athletes play football than any other sport.

Yes, football, "America's Passion" as Howie Long referred to the sport during his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2000 - laps the field when it comes to high school boys' favorite participation sport. It is also the most-played sport by high school athletes regardless of gender.

Tackle youth football is as strong as ever, too, as approximately 3 million youngsters aged 6-14 play the game today.

According to figures from the past three annual high school athletics participation surveys conducted by the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations (NFHS), the number of boys playing high school football more than doubles the next-played sport by that group. In addition, the number of boys playing high school football has increased each season. Football figures below encompass 11-, 9-, 8- and 6-player tackle programs.

2008-09

TOP H.S. PARTICIPATION SPORTS

PARTICIPANTS

Tackle Football

1,139,202

Track and Field (Outdoor)

558,007

Basketball

545,145

Baseball

473,184

Soccer

383,824

2007-08

TOP H.S. PARTICIPATION SPORTS

PARTICIPANTS

Tackle Football

1,135,361

Basketball

552,935

Track and Field (Outdoor)

548,821

Baseball

478,029

Soccer

383,561

2006-07

TOP H.S. PARTICIPATION SPORTS

PARTICIPANTS

Tackle Football

1,104,548

Basketball

556,269

Track and Field (Outdoor)

544,180

Baseball

477,430

Soccer

377,999

"We are pleased to report that participation in high school football continues to rise," said Bob Gardner, NFHS chief operating officer and executive director designate. Gardner also serves on USA Football's board of directors. "In the past 10 years, about an additional 1,000 schools have added programs. This is great news given the current economic challenges that high school athletic programs are facing. Football is the No. 1 participation sport at the high school level for boys with more than 1.1 million in the 11-player game, and we fully expect that trend to continue.

"In addition to the strength of high school football from a participation standpoint, we believe coaches will be better prepared to teach from an education-based philosophy through involvement in the NFHS Coach Education Program. The Fundamentals of Coaching course, as well as the Fundamentals of Coaching Football course by USA Football, are tremendous educational tools and will help ensure that high school student-athletes are receiving the necessary education on the playing field as well as the classroom."

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