High school sports participation continues to increase in California and is at an all-time high for the fifth consecutive year, according to the 2017 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sports Participation Survey released last month.
Up by 0.78 percent since last year’s survey, according to the CIF, 785,357 student-athletes are competing in education-based athletic programs in California.
“Winning and losing in education-based athletics cannot, and must not, be the defining moment for those participating in CIF sports,” said Roger L. Blake, CIF executive director, in a press release. “With positive adult leadership on the fields and in the gymnasiums, this trend of increasing participating will continue as our students gain the valuable lifelong lessons that can only be learned through participation in education-based athletics.”
Along with the overall participation increase in high school athletics, there were a few sports that saw noticeable increases across both genders. Lacrosse saw the largest percentage increase, a combined 7.40 percent, or 1,245 more participants (12.44 percent, or 940 increase for girls; 3.29 percent, or 305 increase for boys), followed by cross-country with a 4.91 percent increase, or 2,688 more participants (1.95 percent, or 490 increase for girls; 7.42 percent, or 2,198 increase for boys). Additionally, girls wrestling participation continues to increase, this year by 9.47 percent as 400 more girls are competing in the sport for 4,505 total participants as of 2017.
Although the numbers of participants decreased, football (11-player variety) remains the most popular boys sport. There were 97,079 participants last fall, a decrease of 3.12 percent (3,126 participants) from the previous year. Eight-player football increased by 10.17 percent, or 196 boys.
Track and field (56,032) ranked second, with participation increasing by 0.28 percent since 2016, followed by soccer (52,795), basketball (46,114) and baseball (43,913).
Additionally, for the third consecutive year, boys volleyball participation increased. It took over the ninth spot, surpassing tennis, with 19,676 participants.
For girls, soccer captured the top spot for the second consecutive year with 47,139 participants (0.77 percent, or 361 increase), followed by former No. 1 sport track and field (46,276 participants for a 0.66 percent, or 302 increase). Volleyball remains third (44,526), increasing participation by 2.54 percent since 2016, followed by basketball (34,222) and softball (33,265).
The 2017 census also revealed that 2,315 student-athletes participated in education-based athletics in California in the past school year.
The CIF’s 1,587 member schools participated in the survey as part of the National Federation of State High School Associations nationwide survey that measures the number of students competing in sports in the country.