With the high school sports season underway as another school year starts, it’s not surprising to learn that participation in high school sports continues to rise.

Led by an additional 15,009 participants in girls sports programs, the overall number of participants in high school sports increased for the 29th consecutive year in 2017-’18, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS) . 

The number of participants in high school sports in 2017-’18 reached an all-time record high of 7,979,986, according to figures from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia. 

The number of girls participating in high school sports reached an all-time high of 3,415,306, and boys participation also set a new standard at 4,564,680. Notably, the figures include multiple-sport athletes being counted for each sport they participated in during the year.

Wisconsin ranks 14th on the list with a reported 181,500 participants in athletics alone. Participation numbers in other states include other NFHS activities outside of athletics or sports not sponsored by the WIAA membership. 

The top 10 states by participants remained the same, however, Ohio moved ahead of Illinois into fourth place this year. Texas and California topped the list again with 824,619 and 819,625 participants, respectively, followed by New York (378,065), Ohio (347,567), Illinois (338,848), Pennsylvania (319,867), Florida (311,361), Michigan (296,625), New Jersey (281,800) and Minnesota (240,433).

While the number of additional 16,451 participants this year was not as substantial as last year’s increase of 94,635, a steady increase in several boys and girls sports extended the streak to a record-breaking 29th year.

Among boys sports, soccer registered the largest gain with 6,128 additional participants. Among the other boys sports with sizeable gains were cross-country (3,824), volleyball (3,767) and golf (2,558).

The girls sport sponsored by the WIAA that has experienced the largest increase in participation nationally was swimming and diving at 4,797 followed by golf at 3,176. 

With 1,035,942 participants, 11-player football remains the No. 1 participatory sport for boys in high school by a large margin. Outdoor track and field is No. 2 with 600,097 participants, followed by basketball (551,373), baseball (487,097), soccer (456,362), cross-country (270,095), wrestling (245,564), tennis (158,151), golf (144,024) and swimming/diving (138,935).

School is starting, so let the games begin.