For the first time in 31 years, high school athletics and activities participation across the country has declined, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The 2018-19 total of 7,937,491 U.S. high school participants is a decrease of 43,395 from the 2017-18 school year, when the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7,980,886.
So how did the Evergreen State fare? Similarly, according to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
Washington saw a dip in participation, tallying 174,378 students involved in high school activities during the year compared to 175,783 in 2017-18, per the WIAA.
The NFHS reported that the biggest contributors to the nationwide decline were the two longstanding and popular sports of football and basketball. Although Washington saw a decline in year-over-year participation in 11-player football, the number of participants in 8-player football increased in 2018-19.
Despite the potentially unsettling numbers, there was some good news for the state, in other sports. Participation increased in boys cross country, track and field, and wrestling. Girls participation increased in bowling, track and field, and wrestling.
“We know from recent surveys that the number of kids involved in youth sports has been declining, and a decline in the number of public school students has been predicted for a number of years, so we knew our ‘streak’ might end someday,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director. “The data from this year’s survey serves as a reminder that we have to work even harder in the coming years to involve more students in these vital programs – not only athletics but performing arts programs as well.”
Washington remained at No. 15 in terms of total participation rankings. In total, schools in Washington saw 94,614 boys turn out compared to 79,764 girls participants.