The National Federation of State High School Assns. released its annual sports survey Monday with the headline, "High school sports participation increases for the 28th straight year, nears 8 million mark."
Buried in the news release, however, was the fact that 25,901 fewer students played 11-player football in 2016-17. The overall drop was 25,503. That continues with a trend from a decline in youth football participation. The overall participation is 1,086,748 students playing football, No. 1 among all sports.
"While we are concerned when any sport experiences a decline in participation, the numbers do not substantiate that schools are dropping the sport of football," according to Bob Gardner, federation executive director, in a comment from the news release.