NFHS Releases First Participation Survey in 3 Years Due to Pandemic
from James Alverson, Media Director for the NCHSAA
This week, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released the first National Participation Survey in three years. The survey was suspended for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic on high school athletic and activities programs across the country.
The data released saw a 4% drop in participation nationally from the 2018-19 survey to the data in the 2021-2022 survey. North Carolina specifically experienced a 9.1% decline in participation during that period, with a significant decline of 12.5% in women’s sports.
“As we look at the participation numbers from last year, it is obvious to us that we are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker. “We believe that last year’s data indicates we may be encountering some lingering effects of the COVID-19 shortened season. Perhaps shorter seasons coupled with overlapping seasons may have contributed to a sharper decline in participation for North Carolina than we have seen in other states.”
The NCHSAA data for 2021-22 show a 3700-student rebound in football, a 17.3% increase from 2020-21, with 11 programs returning to the field. Lacrosse experienced a similar return with all 14 men’s programs that did not field teams in the COVID year returning to play for 2021-22. The Men’s Lacrosse total participation numbers bounced back 895 students, increasing 32.7% from the COVID-shortened year. Women’s Lacrosse saw an increase of six teams and 299 students, up 13.7%.
Commissioner Que Tucker added, “We remain encouraged that student-athletes and their communities are returning to normal and continue to expect rebounds in participation at our member schools. We continue to believe that education-based athletic programs are tremendous enrichment opportunities for young people in our state’s schools and remain committed to ensuring those opportunities remain available for all young people across our state.”
The NCHSAA will have additional information on participation numbers and trends in North Carolina in the coming weeks on the NCHSAA Websites.