SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – Education-based athletics participation continues to increase in California and is at an all-time high for the eighth consecutive year according to the 2019-20 California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Sports Participation Survey. Up by 0.16% since the previous 2018-19 survey, 815,313 student-athletes are competing in education-based athletic programs in California.

“We are encouraged to see steady growth in education-based athletics,” states CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti. “The CIF looks forward to continuing this trend and will remain focused on its goals of expanding participation opportunities for girls as well as providing additional opportunities for all students at our member schools.”

Along with the overall participation increase in education-based athletics, there were a few sports that saw noticeable increases across both genders. Of the top 10 sports, volleyball saw the largest percentage increase, a combined 2.68% or 1,830 more participants, followed by track and field with a 2.03% or 2,050 more participants, and swimming and diving with a 1.07% increase or 552 more participants.  

Football (11-player) continues to lead the top 10 boys’ sports with 89,756 participants which decreased by 1.69% or 1,549 participants. Track and field (57,302) is the second most popular sport, which increased by 3.55%, followed by soccer (55,036), basketball (47,675), and baseball (45,132) which increased by 1.77%. Additionally, boys’ volleyball participation increased by 5.99%, as well as boys’ lacrosse, which increased by 4.71%.

For girls, soccer captured the top spot for the fifth consecutive year with 48,647 participants. Volleyball came in second (46,495), which increased participation by 1.08%, followed by track and field with 45,318 participants. Basketball (34,368) and softball (32,502) rounded out the top five girls’ sports. Girls’ lacrosse saw a notable 9.11% increase (10,737), taking over the 10th most popular sport for girls, while girls’ wrestling continues to grow with 6,446 participants for a 7.18% increase.

The CIF’s 1,606-member schools were asked to participate in the survey as part of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) nationwide survey that measures the number of students competing in sports in the country.

A chart indicating results from the last nine participation surveys follows. Only CIF-approved sports are listed individually. Also, a summary of the top 10 sports by gender, based on participation numbers.

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