Participation in high school sports had declined in recent years, with much of the blame cast toward the pandemic’s grip that suffocated the normalcy in American culture. 

But the numbers from 2023 are showing positive trends, a rise that has not been seen in high school sports since 1995.

According to a study conducted by Lending Tree, the numbers obtained from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) show that nearly 6 million students participated in sports during the 2022-23 calendar, a 3.1% increase from 2021-22.

And while that overall bump is lower than the record-high of 2017-18, where some 6.1 million students played high school sports, the increase is a welcomed progression in the grand scheme of the “New Normal.”

However, the most interesting data from the study goes beyond the macro and spotlights a micro-focused breakdown of each state’s participation numbers, which includes boys’ and girls’ percentages toward the overall total.

Which states have the highest participation rates?

The lowest?

Although some of rankings across the country weren’t surprising, the answer to both questions came with a heavy dose of astonishment.

Take a look …

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 21.8%

Girls’ participation: 17%

Overall: 19.4%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 23.9%

Girls’ participation: 20.2%

Overall: 22.2%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 28.2%

Girls’ participation: 20.2%

Overall: 24.3%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 28.6%

Girls’ participation: 21.5%

Overall: 25.1%

(Photo: Courtesy of Tony Morales via LoHud)

Boys’ participation: 30.3%

Girls’ participation: 19.6%

Overall: 25.1%

(BRIAN JENKINS/for the Free Press-Burlington)

Boys’ participation: 25.1%

Girls’ participation: 26.4%

Overall: 25.7%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 32.5%

Girls’ participation: 18.8%

Overall: 25.9%

(USA TODAY)

Boys’ participation: 29.6%

Girls’ participation: 24.2%

Overall: 27%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 34.7%

Girls’ participation: 21.1%

Overall: 28.2%

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Boys’ participation: 31.5%

Girls’ participation: 24.9%

Overall: 28.3%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 31.7%

Girls’ participation: 25.4%

Overall: 28.6%

(Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)

Boys’ participation: 30.9%

Girls’ participation: 26.7%

Overall: 28.9%

(Anchorage Daily News)

Boys’ participation: 31.7%

Girls’ participation: 27.1%

Overall: 29.4%

(Photo: Ricky DeBerry Sr.)

Boys’ participation: 33.9%

Girls’ participation: 26.2%

Overall: 30.2%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 35.5%

Girls’ participation: 26.9%

Overall: 31.4%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 41.9%

Girls’ participation: 25.2%

Overall: 33.6%

(USA TODAY)

Boys’ participation: 38.7%

Girls’ participation: 28.9%

Overall: 33.9%

(Photo: Shane Fuller)

Boys’ participation: 38%

Girls’ participation: 31.5%

Overall: 34.9%

(Photo: Sean Anthony, La Cueva Softball).

Boys’ participation: 38.3%

Girls’ participation: 32%

Overall: 35.2%

(Photo: Tracy Harris)

Boys’ participation: 40.3%

Girls’ participation: 30.1%

Overall: 35.4%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 39%

Girls’ participation: 32.7%

Overall: 35.9%

(Photo: Bryan Woolston/Special to the Courier Journal)

Boys’ participation: 38.1%

Girls’ participation: 33.8%

Overall: 36%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 42.2%

Girls’ participation: 29.6%

Overall: 36%

(Photo: Oregon Episcopal)

Boys’ participation: 39.2%

Girls’ participation: 33.7%

Overall: 36.5%

(USA TODAY)

Boys’ participation: 43.4%

Girls’ participation: 33.1%

Overall: 38.4%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 39.9%

Girls’ participation: 37.7%

Overall: 38.8%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 39.5%

Girls’ participation: 39.7%

Overall: 39.6%

(USA TODAY)

Boys’ participation: 46.2%

Girls’ participation: 33.2%

Overall: 39.9%

(Photo: Bryon Ng)

Boys’ participation: 44.1%

Girls’ participation: 35.4%

Overall: 40%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 45.6%

Girls’ participation: 34.1%

Overall: 40%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 45.6%

Girls’ participation: 34.4%

Overall: 40.1%

(Photo: Glenn Gilley)

Boys’ participation: 44.4%

Girls’ participation: 37.5%

Overall: 41.2%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 45.9%

Girls’ participation: 38%

Overall: 42.1%

(Photo: Sherry Saccoliti)

Boys’ participation: 49%

Girls’ participation: 36.3%

Overall: 42.7%

(Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

Boys’ participation: 49.3%

Girls’ participation: 36.9%

Overall: 43.4%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 47%

Girls’ participation: 41.4%

Overall: 44.3%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 50.6%

Girls’ participation: 41.7%

Overall: 46.2%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 52.1%

Girls’ participation: 41.1%

Overall: 46.7%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 50.4%

Girls’ participation: 44.8%

Overall: 47.8%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 53.7%

Girls’ participation: 42.8%

Overall: 48.4%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 50.1%

Girls’ participation: 47.1%

Overall: 48.7%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 56.1%

Girls’ participation: 41.4%

Overall: 48.9%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 59.2%

Girls’ participation: 44.6%

Overall: 52.3%

(Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Boys’ participation: 57.9%

Girls’ participation: 46.1%

Overall: 52.3%

(Photo: Jason Caldwell/247Sports)

Boys’ participation: 64.1%

Girls’ participation: 42.7%

Overall: 53.6%

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Boys’ participation: 58.6%

Girls’ participation: 49.6%

Overall: 54.1%

(USA TODAY)

Boys’ participation: 55.6%

Girls’ participation: 53.2%

Overall: 54.5%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 65%

Girls’ participation: 47.6%

Overall: 56.1%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 64.9%

Girls’ participation: 51.5%

Overall: 58.6%

(USA TODAY Network)

Boys’ participation: 66.7%

Girls’ participation: 57.3%

Overall: 62.1%




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