814,004 Student-Athletes Participating Throughout the State
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – High school sports participation continues to increase in California and is at an all-time high for the seventh consecutive year according to the 2018-19 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sports Participation Survey. Up by 0.67% since the previous survey in 2017-18, 814,004 student-athletes are competing in education-based athletic programs in California.
“It’s reassuring to see the overall participation increase in education-based athletics,” states CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti. “Over the past seven years, the 14% increase in girls participating is especially encouraging. As an organization, we must continue to provide new opportunities for all students at our member schools.”
Along with the overall participation increase in high school athletics, there were a few sports that saw noticeable increases across both genders. Of the top 10 sports, soccer saw the largest percentage increase, a combined 3.87% or 3,890 more participants, followed by volleyball with a 3.47% increase or 2,292 more participants and basketball with a 2.18% increase or 1,798 more participants.
Football (11-player) continues to lead the top 10 boys’ sports with 91,305 participants which decreased, by 3.16% or 2,981 participants). Track and field (55,335) is the second most popular sport, followed by soccer (54,996), which increased by 3.25%; basketball (48,111), which increased by 1.1% and baseball (44,347) rounding out the top five boys’ sports. Additionally, boys’ volleyball participation increased by 6.89%, as well as boys’ golf, which increased by 3.28%.
Nocetti adds, “As in previous years, we have noticed a steady and continued decrease in football participants. It is imperative that we continue to partner with organizations such as USA Football and their Football Development Model which provides a road map for how we coach, play and learn the game at every level.”
For girls, soccer captured the top spot for the fourth consecutive year with 49,342 participants, which increased participation by 4.56% since 2018. Volleyball claimed the number two spot (45,997), which increased participation by 1.9%, while track and field dropped to third with 45,235 participants. Rounding out the top five girls’ sports were basketball (35,902) and softball (32,233). Additionally, girls’ wrestling participation (6,014) continues to grow, increasing by 13.77%, as well as traditional competitive cheer (10,342), which increased by 12.16%.
The CIF’s 1,606-member schools participated in the survey as part of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) nationwide survey that measures the number of students competing in sports in the country.
A chart indicating results from the last nine participation surveys in the complete release below. Only CIF-approved sports are listed individually. Also, a summary of the top 10 sports by gender, based on participation numbers, and complete data can be found on our census page.