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PREP SPORTS: High school sports participation at all-time high

In high school girls sports, soccer has the most participants for the second consecutive year with 47,139 participants, a 0.77 percent or 361 increase,
The Union file photo by Laura Elliott | The Union

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 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.

Up by 0.78 percent since the previous survey in 2016, 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 CIF Executive Director Roger L. Blake. “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.

Football (11-player) continues to lead the top 10 boys’ sports with 97,079 participants which decreased, by 3.12 percent (3,126 participants); interestingly, 8-player football increased by 10.17 percent, or 196 boys. Track and field (56,032) is the second most popular sport, which increased participation by 0.28 percent since 2016 followed by soccer (52,795); basketball (46,114) and baseball (43,913) rounding out the top five boys’ sports. Additionally, for the third consecutive year, boys’ volleyball participation increased and took over the ninth spot, surpassing tennis, with 19,676 participants.




For girls, soccer captured the top spot the second consecutive year with 47,139 participants (0.77 percent, or 361 increase), followed by former top 10 leader track and field (46,276 participants for a 0.66 percent, or 302 increase). Volleyball still trails a third (44,526), which increased participation by 2.54 percent since 2016, followed by basketball (34,222) and softball (33,265).

Also, the 2017 census gathered information regarding unified teams with 2,315 student-athletes currently participating in education-based athletics in California. The CIF’s 1,587-member schools participated in the survey as part of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) nationwide survey that measures the number of students competing in sports in the country.


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