Jun 20, 2012 11:07 AM
More than 70,000 Kentucky students competed in high school athletics during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the Kentucky High School Athletics Association.
The National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) collected the data as part of their annual participation survey.
In all, 40,103 boys and 30,774 girls competed on high school level teams in KHSAA sanctioned sports and sport-activities. This compares to 32,886 boys and 18,286 girls in the 1989-90 school year.
The numbers highlight explosive growth in girls' sports. Basketball, soccer, softball, track and volleyball each had more than 5,000 girls competing. Volleyball rated highest in level of female participation with 6,147 athletes in the 2011 season.
"I think our schools are really seeing the fruits of their labors with our emphasis on girls sports, and reporting and awareness related to Title IX," KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said. "In 1989-90, we had only basketball with more than 3,000 girls participating, and now we have five different sports with more than 5,000 participation slots in each. These opportunities show vast improvement for the girls in our schools, but we still have plenty of work to do. I am particularly pleased with the fact that we have more than 6,000 students playing fast pitch softball - 1,000 more than slow pitch softball - and more than 5,600 in girls' soccer, two sports we didn't have in 1989-90; and volleyball participation has exploded from 70 schools with 780 participants in 1989-90 to 255 schools having 6,147 participants in 2012-2013."
Football participation hit an all-time high in Kentucky last season, with 14,042 boys listed on rosters across the Commonwealth. That compares to 7,195 in 1989-90.
Baseball, basketball, soccer and track all had more than 6,000 boys competing this past year.
Tackett says the benefits of high participation levels in athletics ripple through the state's entire educational system.
"Interscholastic sports is the absolute best opportunity to ensure students stay involved representing their school, and maintain better academic and attendance records, all of which are critically important to the academic goals of our Commonwealth"