For the 24th straight year, high school sports participation increased from the year before, according to the latest High School Athletics Participation Survey from the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS).
The survey, which compiles data from the 51 state high school athletic/activity associations (including the District of Columbia), found that participation in high school sports reached a new all-time high of 7,713,577 student-athletes during the 2012-13 school year. That figure marks an increase of 21,057 from the previous school year, according to the survey.
Girls’ participation in high school sports also reached a new all-time high in 2012-13, with an additional 15,190 female student-athletes from the year before. A total of 3,222,723 female student-athletes participated in high school sports during the 2012-13 school year, the NFHS found.
Eight of the top 10 most popular girls’ sports—outdoor track and field, volleyball, soccer, cross country, tennis, swimming and diving, competitive spirit squads, and lacrosse—all experienced a rise in participation during the 2012-13 school year, according to the survey.
[UPDATE, 8/28: It’s worth noting that some of the female sports counted by the NFHS, including competitive spirit squads, don’t count as sports under Title IX. See here for more on that.]
On the boys’ side, participation figures rebounded after suffering their first decrease in two decades during the 2011-12 school year. A total of 4,490,854 male student-athletes participated in high school sports during the 2012-13 school year, marking an increase of 5,867 from the year before. That figure still falls short of the all-time record (4,494,406), however, which was set back in 2010-11.
“While we recognize that many schools are experiencing challenges with funding high school sports programs, we are encouraged that schools are responding to the challenges and that more and more students are involved in high school sports,” said Bob Gardner, the NFHS executive director, in a statement. “Playing sports within the school setting continues to be the desire of more than 55 percent of students enrolled in our nation’s high schools.”
The NFHS survey compiles data from the 51 state high school athletic/activity associations (including the District of Columbia). Texas and California had the most student-athletes who played high school sports, with 798,333 and 777,545, respectively. New York (389,475), Illinois (339,944), Ohio (327,919), Pennsylvania (315,492), Michigan (304,438), New Jersey (270,423), Florida (243,397) and Minnesota (230,421) rounded out the top 10.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.