NFHS survey: High school sports participation up overall; boys' participation falls
First the good news: More high school students are playing sports than ever before, according to annual participation date compiled by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Now the not-so-good news: According to the survey, boys' participation in high school athletics dropped for the first time in nearly two decades during the 2011-12 academic year.
In all, 9,419 fewer boys participated in high school sports last season according to the survey. That doesn't seem like that large a drop, considering the number of boys' athletes totaled 4,484,987 in 2011-12. Still, it's a trend in the wrong direction, and becomes perhaps more worrisome when you consider football -- which has taken a hit in the public perception department due to continued concerns about concussions and long-term player safety -- was one of the hardest-hit sports. Football saw a decrease of 12,239 athletes, while basketball (13,603 fewer) actually saw the largest dip among boys' sports.
Of course, the data represents too small a sample to draw any real conclusions from. Likewise, it's impossible to know the exact reason for the drop in participation -- whether it's driven more by economics, safety concerns (in the case of football) or some other combination of factors. The dip in boys' participation could simply be a aberration.
It's also worth nothing that girls' participation continued to surge to an all-time high of 3,207,533 athletes last year. That's obviously an encouraging sign.
What do you all think of the numbers? Evidence of a larger trend, or merely a one-year deviation?