HS participation numbers on the upswing

The Arkansas statistics from one website don’t coincide with what Lance Taylor is seeing.

According to nationalhsfootball.com, high school football participation was in a five-year decline going going into this season. Numbers had dropped in 36 states and fell off almost 40,000 players nationally since 2009.

According to that website, Arkansas is among the top five states, led by normal high school hotbeds Ohio and Florida, in which there has been a major decline.

“Our figures don’t reflect that,” said Taylor, executive director of the Arkansas Activities Associatiion.

Taylor said overall athletic figures show an increase in football participation going into this year.

According to AAA numbers, football participation in Arkansas for 2012-13 ws 8,734. For 2013-14, it’s 10,977.

The latest surveys show football is again on the rise in most states.

According to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations, football participation among high school students increased for the first time in five years, with an additional 6,607 boys participating in 11-man football during the 2013-14 school year.

According to the survey, 6,607 more boys participated in football last season than they had the year before, pushing the total to 1,093,234. In addition, a total of 1,715 girls participated in 11-player football, an increase of 184 from the previous year.

“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. “Certainly this rise in football numbers is a confirmation of those beliefs and indicates the strong continued interest nationwide in high school football.”

“The numbers we have are looking good,” said Taylor. “We may have lost some numbers in some past years because of consolidation and some schools were closed or had to cancel their programs. But we’ve also seen more schools, which haven’t had football, add football. That has created more opportunities for kids who might not normally have the chance to play football.

“And we’ve seen in the last few years, several schools have added football. We always monitor these numbers and they look good to us.”

Faulkner County shools report the number of football players has been steady or have increased for this season. Those numbers often vary by size of the class.

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