Participation in high school sports was down in the state of Oregon for the 2017-18 season, with the number dipping below 100,000 for the first time since 2012-13.
The National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations released its annual nationwide athletics participation report on Friday, where it reported that there were 99,907 total participants in Oregon athletics last year — 55,572 boys and 44,335 girls. All three numbers are down from the previous year, with 102,762 participants — 57,651 boys and 45,111 girls.
It is a continued trend of fewer boys and more girls participating in athletics, however, as girl participation has risen six percent since the 2009-10 season, while boys participation has dropped 7.5 percent.
The most popular sport in the state was football yet again with 12,419 players between the 11-man and 8-man ranks; however, that total is down 17 percent from the 15,009 players from 2008. Rounding out the top five for most popular boys sports were track and field (9,526), basketball (7,620), soccer (6,397) and baseball (5,596).
While football’s decline grabs the headlines, baseball and boys golf continued its troubling, and surprising, drop-offs. In baseball, participation has dropped each of the past four seasons, from 6,071 in 2015 to 5,596 this season, and it has dropped 17 percent from 2008 when 6,766 kids played.
Meanwhile, golf’s 2017-18 participation number of 1,464 is down 32 percent since 2008 when 2,162 kids teed off.
Track and field keeps its spot as the most popular girls sport with 7,289 players, which is a 11 percent increase over the past 10 years. Following track is volleyball (7,086), basketball (5,824), soccer (5,398) and softball (4,568).
Girls swimming was the only major team sport in the state that saw an increase in participation last season, with 2,685 swimmers increasing from the 2,512 in 2016-17.
Nationally, boys and girls participation increased for the 29th consecutive year and reached an all-time high of 7,979,986, with 3,415,306 girls and 4,564,680 boys.
Football is still king, as well, even as the numbers continue to drop. There were 1,034,942 kids playing 11-man football last season, down from the 1,057,382 participants in 2016 and down seven percent from the 1,112,303 kids that played in 2008.
Soccer was the biggest gainer nationally for the boys, with 6,128 more participants last season, while competitive spirit had the biggest gain for the girls with 18,426 more participants.