Football participation increases despite concussion concerns

Chaminade players work out
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Despite concerns over the risk of concussion injuries, football participation among high school students increased for the first time in five years, with an additional 6,607 boys participating in 11-man football during the 2013-14 school year, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Assns.

Overall, sports participation increased for the 25th consecutive year, rising to 7,795,658, a record. The increase was 82,081. Girls participation also set a record at 3,267,664 and increased 44,941. Boys participation reached more than 4.5 million. Football had 1,093,234 participants.

“With the precautions that are in place nationwide to address concussions in all high school sports, including football, we have maintained that the risk of injury is as low as it ever has been,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director, in a statement. “Certainly this rise in football numbers is a confirmation of those beliefs and indicates the strong continued interest nationwide in high school football.”


Among the top 10 most popular boys sports, baseball had the largest gain with an additional 7,838 participants, followed by football and soccer (6,437).

Volleyball gained the most among girls, with 9,426 additional participants.

Lacrosse continues to grow, with 9,744 additional participants in boys and girls to 188,689.

Texas has the most high school sports participants at 805,299, followed by California at 783,008