May 3, 2020,

For decades excelling at high school sports was seen as a ticket to achieving a scholarship and a new life with endless possibilities.

Something appears to have changed.

Bells are sounding and they are not the ones for P.E.

More like sounding the alarm.

At the global news and information source wbur.org they educate, “Across the board, participation in high school sports is down — region to region — across the United States, except in a few specific instances. And you can blame concerns about concussions or helicopter parents, and you can blame those video games. We love to blame video games. But the numbers don’t lie. They’re stark.”

We heard the alarm bells sounding off in the distance but now they appear to be moving closer.

The National Federation of State High School Associations says so and when they speak, if you have any vested interests in high school sports, you should listen to what they have to say.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is the body that writes the rules of competition for most high school sports and activities in the United States. NFHS’s headquarters are located in White River State Park in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Over 19,500 high schools belong to associations that are members of the NFHS.

Most high schools, whether public or private, belong to their state’s high school association; in turn, each state association belongs to the NFHS.

At nfhs.org they caution, “Participation in high school sports declined in 2018-19 for the first time in 30 years, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The 2018-19 total of 7,937,491 participants is a decline of 43,395 from the 2017-18 school year when the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time record high of 7,980,886. This year’s total – the third-highest ever – consisted of 4,534,758 boys and 3,402,733 girls, according to the figures obtained from the 51-member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia. The last decline in sports participation numbers occurred during the 1988-89 school year.”

43,395 is a substantial decline indeed.

They add, “The biggest contributors to the decline were the two longstanding and popular sports of football and basketball. Participation in boys 11-player football declined by 30,829 participants to 1,006,013 – the lowest mark since 1,002,734 in the 1999-2000 school year.

Although the actual number of participants in boys 11-player football dropped for the fifth consecutive year, the number of schools offering the sport remained steady. The survey indicated that 14,247 schools offer 11-player football – an increase of 168 from last year. A comparison of the figures from the past two years indicates that the average number of boys involved in 11-player football on a per-school basis dropped from 73 to 70, which would include freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams.”

Who would have thought? Especially with the symbolic arms going on in men’s NCA College Football where they are spending millions of dollars on state of the art training facilities to attract high school recruits.

Some of the reasons for that decline is explained at globalsportmatters.com who share, “There’s no question football’s image has taken a big hit as research results on concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and its link to football becomes available. High-profile former NFL quarterbacks such as Troy Aikman, Brett Favre and Kurt Warner each have said they wouldn’t feel comfortable with their children playing youth football. Former President Barack Obama and LeBron James are both on the record about the sport’s dangers, too.”

The survey appears to be the canary in the cave.

This year’s survey indicated participation by high school students in 70 different sports, as well as 14 adapted sports for students with disabilities. Some of the more popular non-traditional sports were bowling (61,291), weightlifting (29,144), badminton (18,162), flag football (12,154) and archery (10,391).

This news is in stark contrast to girls wrestling.

grapplingstars.com, femcompetitor.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, fcielitecompetitor.com fciwomenswrestling2.com articles, FCI Women’s Sports, photo via Everett-Herald-photo.

The participation in girls wrestling is exploding.

News like this is becoming more common in this female oriented sports.

As reported on April 30, 2020 by news-press.com, “Over the last decade, Southwest Florida high school wrestling coaches along with many coaches throughout the state fought for girls to have the opportunity to represent their school on its biggest stage in their own weight class brackets separate from their male teammates.

That is one step closer to reality now that the Florida High School Athletic Association voted unanimously to recommend its board of directors sanction girls wrestling, which could make it the 24th state to do so.”

Very exciting and impressive.

grapplingstars.com, femcompetitor.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, fcielitecompetitor.com fciwomenswrestling2.com articles, FCI Women’s Sports, photo via The-Bakersfield-Californian.

At the National Wrestling Hall of Fame nwhof.org they educate, “So here are the facts. In 1990, there were 112 girls who participated in high school wrestling. For 27 straight years, girls high school wrestling has grown. In many of those years, the percentage of growth was 10% or more. In the 2016-17 high school year, there were 14,587 girls wrestling in high school. And it is well known that that number is too small, because some high school state associations still do not report how many girls they have.

As of the 2017-18 season, there are six high school state associations which have officially sanctioned state high school championships for girls. The states with girls wrestling, with the year of their sanction, are Alaska (2014), California (2011), Hawaii (1998), Tennessee (2015), Texas (1999) and Washington (2007).”

The team at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Center for Critical Sport Studies have documented girls wrestling for years.

The sentiments are echoed there where they announce, “Wrestling team participation among high school girls has grown consistently for 28 straight years (since1990), and the number of female participants in wrestling has increased by nearly 500% between 2001-02 and 2017-18, climbing from 3,405 to 16,562 participants.”

A growth of 500 percent. Incredible.

grapplingstars.com, femcompetitor.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, fcielitecompetitor.com fciwomenswrestling2.com articles, FCI Women’s Sports, photo via Santa-Maria-Times

The also share that Women’s collegiate wrestling began to gain traction in 2007. Between 2007 and 2018, 45 colleges and universities added women’s teams. In 2018, there were 81 women’s wrestling programs at postsecondary institutions, including 18 NCAA programs, 24 NAIA programs, and 39 NCWA programs.

Female Competition International (FCI) can attest to that.

We have been covering girl’s freestyle wrestling since 2012 and have witnessed one story after another where a university is announcing that they are adding a women’s wrestling program.

It is amazing to watch the fierce acceleration in the growth of female grappling nationwide.

If the canary is emerging from the cave, sounding the alarm about the recent decline in the participation in high school sports, by contrast, the eagle is soaring from the mountain tops screaming loudly about the incredible surge in girl’s wrestling.

grapplingstars.com, femcompetitor.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, fcielitecompetitor.com fciwomenswrestling2.com articles, FCI Women’s Sports, photo via Troy Daily News

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OPENING PHOTO grapplingstars.com, femcompetitor.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, fcielitecompetitor.com fciwomenswrestling2.com articles, FCI Women’s Sports, photo via Tacoma News Tribune 

https://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2020/01/17/girls-wrestling-high-school-rachel-bachman

https://www.nfhs.org/articles/participation-in-high-school-sports-registers-first-decline-in-30-years/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Federation_of_State_High_School_Associations

https://globalsportmatters.com/youth/2019/09/12/despite-higher-enrollment-high-school-sports-participation-down/

https://nwhof.org/blog/high-school-girls-wrestling-continues-rapid-growth/

https://www.uccs.edu/ccss/sites/ccss/files/inline-files/WLAG_White_Paper_Final.pdf

https://fciwomenswrestling.com/

https://www.fcielitecompetitor.com/

https://grapplingstars.com/

fciwomenswrestling2.com/ 

https://femcompetitor.com/