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High school football participation drops by 3,520 in California

High school football participation drops by 3,520 in California
St. John Bosco's Devin Fleming (24) celebrates with teammate Anselem Umeh after scoring a touchdown against Bishop Amat in the first quarter of a Pac-5 Division football semifinal at Cerritos College on Nov. 27, 2015. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

In what could be early signs of a national trend, high school football participation in California dropped by 3,520 to 100,205 in 2015-16, a 3.39% drop, according to the participation survey released by the California Interscholastic Federation on Wednesday.

Those are the fewest students participating in 11-man football in California since 99,079 were counted in 2005.

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Officials around the country have been waiting to see the impact from the growing attention and scrutiny over concussions on participation levels in football.

The National Federation of State High School Assns. has not yet released its national statistics for 2015-16. That will provide a better gauge nationally.

But what happens in California usually provides a clue nationally.

High school sports participation overall is at an all-time high in California, growing for the fourth consecutive year, to 779,256.

Volleyball saw the largest increase, a combined 5.59% or 3,260 participants (1,640 increase for girls; 1,620 increase for boys). Soccer increased by 5.24%.

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter at LATSondheimer

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