As the issue of brain injuries in football has become a larger concern over the past few years, high school football had experienced a dip in participation. For four years, the number of players involved across the nation slightly but steadily declined. But as the NFL lawsuits reach their climax and more extensive regulations are enacted across the country, parents are seemingly starting to feel more comfortable letting their children join the team.
For the first time in five years, the number of students participating in high school football grew during the 2013-14 year, with 6,607 more students competing. These findings come from the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
While football had seen drops in participation in previous years, the overall sports participation continued it’s 25-year strong increase, reaching a new record of 7,795,658 participants. This is an increase oof 82,081 from the previous year. Girls participation also set a record with 3,267,664, growing by 44,941 students. Over 4.5 million boys participated in sports, and Football had 1,093,234 students.
“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.”
Out of all the most popular boys sports, baseball had the largest gain, growing by 7,838 students. Football and soccer followed, with soccer seeing 6,437 more players. For girls volleyball showed the biggest gains, witb 9,426 more students.