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Participation in athletics registers small uptick in California

August 3, 2009 | 11:16 pm

Revenues may be down throughout California, but participation in high school athletics is up.

According to the 2009 California Interscholastic Federation Sports Participation Survey, there were a total of 736,727 high school athletes participating in sports last year, an increase of 1,224--or 1.6%--from the last survey conducted two years ago.

"The increase, although slight, is still a testament to the fact that our California schools and student-athletes are very much interested in increasing the athletic programs we have," CIF Executive Director Marie Ishida said in a statement.

Participation was up in both boys' and girls' sports, the survey found. Lacrosse registered the biggest gain with a 45% increase in participation among both boys and girls. Other boys' sports with notable increases were swimming (14.1%), volleyball (7.6%) and wrestling (6.5%). Track and field experienced the biggest growth among girls' sports with a 7.5% increase, followed closely by swimming and diving (7.3%).

Track and field also replaces soccer as the most popular sport for girls with 41,736 participants. Football remains the top sport for boys--despite a 3.4% drop in participation--with 104,224 participants. Track and field is a distant second with 51,689 participants, followed by basketball (42,521) and baseball (42,064).

--Ben Bolch