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More girls took part in high school athletic programs last year than ever before, according to the annual survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Despite the unprecedented number of female participants, high school athletic programs still drew about one-third more boys over all.

More than 2.1 million girls were involved in sports in 1993-94, topping the previous all-time high of 2 million set in 1977-78. That year, girls' participation soared in the wake of passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender discrimination in education settings.

The largest growth sport among girls was fast-pitch softball, followed by soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Basketball remained the most popular sport for girls.

Although athletic participation during the 1993-94 academic year was not at record levels, it did show the largest one-year jump--201,102--in 15 years, the survey noted. That brought the total number of participants to 5.6 million.

Football remained the most popular sport for boys. It also registered the largest gain, ahead of soccer and wrestling.

Tennis was the biggest loser for both boys' and girls' programs.

For the first time, the survey also included participation figures for competitive spirit squads and coed activities.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will again decide whether to implement tougher freshman academic eligibility standards in August 1995.

The group's policy body, the N.C.A.A. Council, last month resolved to place the thorny issue before the membership at its convention in January.

Critics of the standards contend that they are unfair to minority students.

The National Women's Law Center has published "Breaking Down Barriers, A Legal Guide to Title IX."

The 65-page volume by Ellen J. Vargyas, the group's senior counsel and an expert in the field of sex discrimination, traces the history of the law, obstacles to its implementation, and the recent spate of Title IX court cases.

Copies are available for $55 each ($35 for nonprofit organizations) from the National Women's Law Center, 1616 P St., N.W., Suite 100, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 328-5160.

--Karen Diegmueller

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