Participation in prep sports sets record in California

High school sports participation continues to increase in California and is at an all-time high for the seventh consecutive year, according to the 2018-19 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sports Participation Survey released last month.

Up by 0.67% since the 2017-18 survey by the CIF (which governs the state’s high school sports), 814,004 student-athletes competed in education-based athletic programs in California last school year.

“It’s reassuring to see the overall participation increase in education-based athletics,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said in a press release. “Over the past seven years, the 14% increase in girls participating is especially encouraging. As an organization, we must continue to provide new opportunities for all students at our member schools.”

Along with the overall participation increase in high school athletics, a few sports saw noticeable increases across both genders. Of the top 10 sports, soccer saw the largest percentage increase, a combined 3.87%, or 3,890 more participants; followed by volleyball with a 3.47% increase, or 2,292 more participants; and basketball with a 2.18% increase, or 1,798 more participants.

Football (11-player) continues to lead the top 10 boys’ sports with 91,305 participants – despite a decrease of 3.16%, or 2,981 participants.

“As in previous years, we have noticed a steady and continued decrease in football participants,” Nocetti said. “It is imperative that we continue to partner with organizations such as USA Football and their Football Development Model, which provides a road map for how we coach, play and learn the game at every level.”

Track and field (55,335 participants) proved the second most popular sport, followed by soccer (54,996), which increased by 3.25%; basketball (48,111), which increased by 1.1%; and baseball (44,347) rounding out the top five boys sports. Additionally, boys volleyball participation increased by 6.89% and boys golf was up 3.28%.

For girls, soccer captured the top spot for the fourth consecutive year with 49,342 participants, an increase of 4.56% over the prior school year. Volleyball claimed the second spot (45,997), which increased participation by 1.9%, while track and field dropped to third with 45,235 participants. Basketball (35,902) and softball (32,233) were fourth and fifth, respectively. Girls wrestling continues to grow, with participation at 6,014 students – an increase of 13.77%.

Traditional competitive cheer proved more popular as well; the 10,343 participants represented a 12.6% jump from the year before.

The CIF’s 1,606-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.

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