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21st straight year: More than 1 million high school boys played football in 2019

Terence P. Jeffrey on

In the fall of 2019, 1,003,524 American high school boys played 11-man tackle football, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, or NFHS.

That made 2019 the 21st straight year in which at least 1 million American high school boys played football.

No other sport comes close.

According to annual surveys conducted by the NFHS, at least 1 million high school boys have played football in every season from 1999 through 2019.

From the 1988-89 school year through the 1998-99 school year, the number of high school boys playing 11-man tackle football ranged from a low of 886,940 in the fall of 1992 to a high of 983,625 in 1998.

Then, in the fall of 1999, the number climbed above a million to 1,002,734. In 2008, it hit a high of 1,112,303.

 

In no year from 1999 to 2019 did the number of high school boys playing football drop below a million.

It is indisputable: Football is America's game.

In the 2018-2019 school year, which is the last year for which full high-school sports participation data is available, 1,006,013 high school boys played football, according to NFHS. The second most popular sport for boys that year was outdoor track and field. It had 605,354 male participants.

The rest of the top 10 male high school sports included basketball (540,769 participants); baseball (482,740); soccer (459,077); cross country (269,295); wrestling (247,441); tennis (159,314); golf (143,200); and swimming and diving (136,638).

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