tor's lads won their section championship friday night, so they're among the eight big-school teams playing in the state tournament that starts this weekend. he helped clear a nice path
for the backs, got a few pats on the back
, and enjoyed
his final game at mustang stadium.
tor's athletic career got me thinking about how many other students are involved in football and other high school sports. according to the national federation of high school coaches
, over a million u.s. high school students (1,108,286) played football last year (27,626 of them in minnesota) and record numbers are participating in sports more generally.
a new report
shows the gender distribution of participants in different sports in 2007-2008. it provides raw numbers rather than rates (i.e., nothing is standardized by population differences), so i'd exercise caution in interpreting the trend data. nevertheless, here are a few highlights from the press release:boys and girls participation figures reached all-time highs in 2007-08, with 3,057,266 girls and 4,372,115 boys participating . The girls figure surpassed last year's record of 3,021,807, while the boys figure eclipsed the former record of 4,367,442 set in 1977-78. an estimated 54.8 percent of students enrolled in high schools participate in athletics.competitive spirit squads gained the most female participants in 2007-2008 with 16,130, followed by soccer with 8,913 and cross country with 6,973. lacrosse gained the most participants among boys with 11,336, followed by soccer with 5,562, swimming and diving with 5,158 and cross country with 5,042. combined boys and girls participation increased the most for bowling (17 percent) and lacrosse (14 percent). for girls, basketball was the most popular sport (449,450 participants), followed by outdoor track and field (447,520), volleyball (397,968), fast pitch softball (371,293), soccer (346,545), cross country (190,349), tennis (172,455), swimming and diving (147,197), competitive spirit squads (111,307) and golf (69,243).for boys, 11-player football had the most participants (1,108,286), followed by basketball (552,935), outdoor track and field (548,821), baseball (478,029), soccer (383,561), wrestling (259,688), cross country (221,109), golf (159,958), tennis (156,285) and swimming and diving (111,896).
i plotted the current participation numbers by sport in the figure below. basketball, track, swimming, and soccer are popular among both girls and boys; football and baseball are almost exclusively male sports; and, volleyball, softball, spirit, and field hockey are predominantly female sports. there are some major differences in participation rates and in the gender gap in participation across the states.
- Texas has the most sports participants with 779,049, followed by California (735,497), New York (380,870), Ohio (346,571), Illinois (336,646), Michigan (315,734), Pennsylvania (286,992), New Jersey (256,837), Minnesota (230,068) and Florida (227,157).
i was surprised to see minnesota so high on the list, given our relatively small population base. the gender gap in participation appears to be most pronounced in southern states, with girls accounting for about 33% of participants in alabama relative to about 47% of participants in pennsylvania.
in my house, tor participates in a lot more sports than esperanza, but she participates in far more arts, drama, and creative school activities than he does. so, while i'll miss the friday night lights at mustang stadium, i'm looking forward to four more years of great performances in the school auditorium.