Participation in high school athletics increased for the 28th consecutive season to reach an all-time record of 7,963,535 athletes in 2016-17, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The total number of athletes was an increase of 94,635 from the previous year and marked the largest one-year jump since 2000-01.
Female participants reached an all-time high of 3,000,297, an increase of 75,971, the largest one-year jump since 2016.
“As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Title IX this year, this report on girls participation numbers underscores the significance of that important decision in 1972,” NFHS executive director Bob Gardner said in a press release. “It is great to see an ever-increasing number of girls taking advantage of that opportunity to compete in high school sports.”
Texas and California were the top two states with over 800,000 athletes each.
Despite a decrease in numbers from the previous year, football remained the top participation sport for boys. The overall number of participants in football was 1,086,748, down 25,901 athletes from 2015-16. That number was for 6-, 8-, 9- and 11-player football. Participation in 11-player football was down 25,901 from the previous year.
Track and field (600,136), basketball (550,305) baseball (491,790) and soccer (450,234 rounded out the top five sports for boys.
On the girls’ side, basketball had the largest participation number at 494,477 for track and field followed by volleyball (444,779) and basketball (430,368).