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Washington high school sports participation drops for first time in 30 years, mirroring national trend

Participation dropped nationally for the first time in 30 years, according to an annual survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

High school sports participation around the United State is no longer on the rise. 

According to an annual study released by the National Federation of State High School Associations, nationwide participation in high school sports and activities saw its first national decline in 31 years — of 43,395 fewer students— after posting a record high two years ago. 

The sports that saw the largest drop? 11-man football and boys basketball. 

Washington ranked 15th among states in athletic participation. Its numbers mirror the national trend. In the 2018-19 school year, 1,405 fewer students participated in sports or activities (choir, band, etc.) across the state, according to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Track and field, bowling, wrestling and bowling and boys cross country all saw an increase in participation, while those numbers dropped for 11-man football and boys basketball. 8-man football participation numbers increased.

“We know from recent surveys that the number of kids involved in youth sports has been declining, and 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,” NFHS executive director Karissa Niehoff said in a release. “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.”