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The Decline of High School Sports

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

NORTHRIDGE, CA - For the first time in 30 years, participation in high school

sports has declined. Recent studies have shown the biggest decline was found

in football and basketball.

Photo: Wilf Thorne

High school students nationwide have shown a steady drop in the number of kids playing sports. They might have too many classes, not able to afford it, lost interest, or their parents might have concerns with the overall safety of the sport. In regards to the safety, many point to football as the face of those concerns, and the numbers show it.

In the annual report released by the National Federation of State High School Associations, boys 11-man football hit its lowest mark since the 1999-2000 school year. The drop off from the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years was almost 31,000. 44 of the 51 states revealed a decline in 11-man football participation.

But after speaking with Royal High School Football Coach Alex Flandez, he said that “we’ve seen many teams in the (Ventura County) area have to drop their freshman teams because of a lack of kids. Here at Royal we had to physically go out and ask if students were interested in playing.”

Other sports have increased in participation, but it isn’t enough to affect the overall numbers. USA Today has a more detailed structure of what sports students might be shifting towards.

The NHFS releases this in-depth report on each high school sport, but their executive director Karissa Niehoff says this news was a shock.

“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,” Niehoff said. “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.”

Niehoff mentioned that students are doing other things, and their organization will need to account for that. Royal High School Athletic Director, Andy Andreolli, said “video games, electronics, other programs on campus, and in the last five or so years, concussion concerns, those have all impacted the numbers.”


Andreolli explained that in the last few seasons, the preventative measures Royal High put in place has helped steady the fall in football participation.

“The number dipped for awhile, but now because we’ve got these precautions already set in we’re starting to see the rise in football coming back.”

Parents will always be concerned about the health of their child, and the increase in other activities will keep growing. Maybe it’s time that schools acknowledged the shift and put more resources into different areas of student interest.

By, Scott Geirman

Contributions, USA Today, Royal High School, NHFS

Photo, Wilf Thorne



The Facts

Rise in High School Esports

Concussion Concerns Still Impacting Numbers

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