Rick Wolff's Sports Edge: Why are fewer kids playing high school sports?


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Here’s something for sports parents and coaches to ponder:

The National Federation of HS Sports (NFHS) released a survey – a little more than a year ago long before Covid struck — that the number of kids playing HS sports had actually declined for the first time in 30 years.

According to Dr. Karissa Niehoff, the NFHS executive director: “We know from recent surveys that the number of kids involved in youth sports has been declining, and a decline in the number of public school students has been predicted for a number of years, so we knew our ‘streak’ might end someday.”

As Dr. Niehoff points out, this general decline in youth sports is now being reflected at the HS level.

We know, of course, that youth and HS football has declined due to concussion concerns, but why have other sports declined or plateaued in terms of the actual numbers of HS kids playing them? Is it because there’s a downturn in the overall number of HS students? Or because more and more athletes are playing only for their outside travel or club team? Or is there a bigger concern in all of this?

There are approximately 4.5 million boys in this country who play HS sports, and there are 3.5 million girls.

Overall, about 55 percent of  all HS students compete in at least one sport.

Those numbers seem healthy. But even the head of the National Federation of HS Sports is basically saying that for the first time in 30 years the overall numbers are beginning to decline – and remember – these numbers were announced in late 2019, several months before Covid had an effect.

True, over the last ten years, the numbers in a few sports like lax, soccer, and boys volleyball have gone up a bit. And yes, the number of kids enrolled in public schools has dropped a bit as well.

Read more on this story at askcoachwolff.com.