American high school football saw its lowest number of participants last year in nearly two decades.
That’s one big takeaway from the latest annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Participation in boys 11-player football dropped by over 30,000 participants from the 2017-2018 school year to the 2018-2019 school year, with 44 states seeing a drop in participation.
The number of boys involved in 11-player football on a per-school basis also declined from 73 to 70. That total includes participants on freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams.
All told, the total number of boys who played 11-player football last year was the lowest its been since the 1999-2000 school year.
However, 11-player football remains the number one participatory sport for high school boys by a huge margin, with roughly 400,000 more participants than the number two participator sport, which is outdoor track and field.
Additionally, alternative forms of football are picking up steam at schools around the country. From the NFHS release on the survey findings:
While participation in boys 11-player football dropped in all but seven states, participation in 6-player, 8-player and 9-player gained 156 schools and 1,594 participants nationwide, with the largest increase in boys 8-player football from 19,554 to 20,954. In addition, in the past 10 years, participation by girls in 11-player football has doubled – from 1,249 in the 2009-10 school year to 2,404 last year.
While basketball and 11-player football saw declines in participation, sports like track and field, soccer and girls volleyball saw significant growth.
For the full report on the findings, head to NFHS.org.
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