LEXINGTON – The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) enjoyed record participation levels during the 2015-16 schoolyear, with 79,805 rostered participants across the KHSAA’s 13 sports and four sport-activities. Participation levels increased for the fourth-consecutive year, with football once again ranking as the most popular sport with 14,336 competitors (31 girls) playing for 221 schools – an increase of 370 student-athletes over the prior year.
Aided by the addition of four sport-activities (Archery, Bass Fishing, Bowling and Competitive Cheer) and the sport of field hockey, participation has increased by seven percent over the last four years with an added 5,210 kids participating in KHSAA-sponsored activities since the 2012-13 season. Football (1,021) and soccer (877) have seen the largest increase in total participants since the 2012-13 season among the KHSAA’s sport offerings.
“The KHSAA has always, for 100 years, tried to promote participation opportunities for all students. There has been a special renewed focus these last several years with the addition of four sport-activities and one sport, as well as the tremendous response we have received for the addition of Adapted and Unified Activities in specific sports,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “Sports and sport-activities remain the number one dropout prevention tool in secondary education and a valuable addition to classroom learning. It has long been documented that the academic success rate remains higher for participants in sports and sport-activities, and that those that participate in more than one sport remain the gold standard for academic and scholastic achievement.
“I am especially grateful for the support of our Board of Control, the hard working staff at the association, the hundreds of volunteers that assist with our state events and the unending support of our member schools and their staffs that work to make these opportunities available and successful.”
Basketball ranked second in the state in 2015-16 in terms of total competitors with 12,626 participants (an increase of 353 students from a year ago), followed closely by soccer at 12,501 competitors (up 461 kids from 2014-15). Track and Field placed fourth in the state with a total of 11,650 participants during the 2015-16 season.
After football, baseball was the most popular sport for boys with 7,499 participants, followed by basketball (6,716), track and field (7,144) and soccer (6,485). Volleyball was the most popular sport on the girls’ side with 6,366 participants, followed by soccer (6,016), softball (5,846) and basketball (5,482). Soccer enjoyed the largest increase in participants from a year ago with 461 new total competitors, followed by football (370) and basketball (353).
Basketball also ranked as the most-sponsored sport across Kentucky with 275 of a possible 277 schools fielding teams last year. Baseball, softball and volleyball all tied for second in the state as each sport boasted 259 teams. Archery and Bass Fishing saw the largest increase of sponsored teams, with each sport-activity adding 16 programs. The additional 16 teams in Bass Fishing marked an increase of 26 percent to bring its total to 77 teams, while Archery enjoyed a 13 percent growth to bring its total count to 137 teams.