The state of California has always been a major talent base for college football, in part because so many California teens play football. That may not be quite as true in the future.
For the second-straight year, football participation in California was markedly down in 2016, per the California Interscholastic Federation’s annual sports participation study. In 2016, 97,079 California teens played football. In 2015 there were 100,205.
“I don’t think it’s a concern but reflects concerns by parents and reflects a national trend in youth sports,” Roger Blake, executive director the CIF, told the Los Angeles Times. “Kids are still playing sports. They’re just playing other things.”
The CIF study findings were striking because of how they highlight football’s disparity with larger trends; overall high school sports participation rose to a new record high for a fifth-straight year, it was just down in football.
The back-to-back decreases in total football players aside, the sport remains the most popular among male high school athletes, with soccer the most popular for female athletes.
Despite any dwindling numbers, there are four teams in the USA TODAY Super 25 from the state, including preseason number 1 Mater Dei.