The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) annual survey of high school sports participation showed a decline for the first time in 30 years.

Each year, the NFHS issues a survey to each state asking for participation numbers from all sports. Over seven million high school students participate in athletics. The 2018-2019 school year, however, saw a decline for the first time in 30 years.

2017-2018 had a total of 7,980,886 students playing in sanctioned sports across the country. This past year, the total number of students declined by 43,395 to a nationwide total of 7,937,491. The NFHS says that the last time they saw a decline in participation was during the 1988-1989 school year.

Here in South Dakota, the overall number of high school athletes dropped by 72 students. 2017-2018 saw a total of 29,790 students playing sanctioned sports, whereas the 2018-2019 school year had 29,718. That all being said, participation numbers in each sanctioned sport that South Dakota offers remained fairly consistent from the year prior.

High school football took the biggest hit nationwide last year with 11-man football participation dropping by 30,829 students. The NFHS says this is the fifth consecutive year that 11-man football numbers dropped. It's important to note, however, that six-man, eight-man, and nine-man football continues to grow nationwide.

California, Minnesota, and Texas are the only three states that did not see a decline in state-wide participation.

To read more about the study, and see individual breakdowns from each sport, visit the NFHS website.

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