High school athletes in Ontario are trading baseball bats for rock-climbing ropes.
A recent survey of interscholastic sports in the Canadian province found rapid growth in participation in emerging sports—such as mountain biking, archery, and ultimate Frisbee—compared with slower growth in traditional team sports, such as football, baseball, and basketball.
The shift has been happening slowly in the past decade but is starting to accelerate, according to Steve D. Sevor, an assistant director of the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations, the Concord, Ontario-based governing body representing regional interscholastic associations.
“Nowadays, we have such a wide variety of different sports and interests,” he said.
In the 1990s, schools starting adding new sports such as cricket, rock climbing, and snowboarding, Mr. Sevor said. The student-athletes who took part in those sports at their start are now old enough to be high school coaches and promote the activities, he said.
The federation’s survey in the 2004-05 school year showed that participation in interscholastic sports increased by 23 percent over the previous school year. A total of 266,470 students—about 39 percent of the province’s high school enrollment—played on a high school team.
Some of the biggest increases in participation among boys were in indoor soccer, archery, and rock climbing. Among girls, the federation found dramatic gains in indoor soccer, synchronized swimming, and snowboarding.
While traditional sports—such as football, basketball, hockey, and baseball for boys, and basketball, golf, gymnastics, and hockey for girls—showed increases in the number of students taking part, those boosts were at or below the overall average increases in participation.
A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2006 edition of Education Week