High school sports participation in California is at an all-time high, according to the results of a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) survey released last month.
The survey shows 758,474 student-athletes are competing in California high school athletic programs, an increase of 0.08 percent compared to last year’s survey.
“It’s no surprise that education-based athletics continues to see increased participation,” said Roger L. Blake, executive director of the CIF, which governs the state’s high school sports. “All the experiences gained from being part of a high school team help produce well-rounded individuals in our communities. At its best, athletic competition can hold intrinsic values for our society.”
Along with the overall participation increase in high school athletics, three sports saw noticeable increases across both genders. The biggest increase came in water polo – a combined 2.8 percent, or 862 more participants (1.2 percent, or 179 increase for girls; 1.9 percent, or 683 increase for boys), followed by cross-country with a 1.9 percent increase, or 1,057 more participants (2.5 percent, or 604 increase for girls; 4.3 percent, or 683 increase for boys). Participation in track and field increased by 1.4 percent, or 1,375 student-athletes (1.0 percent, or 473 increase for girls; 1.6 percent, or 902 increase for boys).
Football continues to lead the boys’ sports with 102,505 participants, followed by track (55,221) and soccer (47,861), which increased participation by 0.2 percent since 2012. Basketball (43,776) and baseball (43,253) round out the top-five sports for boys.
For girls, track continues to reign as the top sport with 44,200 participants. Soccer remains a close second (43,282), followed by volleyball (40,271), basketball (33,411) – which saw a 4.9 percent dip in participation over the past year – and softball (32,097).
The CIF’s 1,527 member schools participated in the survey as part of a National Federation of State High School Associations nationwide survey.