How Many High School Football Players Are There?

High school football is a popular and cherished tradition in the United States, attracting thousands of young athletes to participate each year. The sport offers students the opportunity to excel physically, learn teamwork, and aspire to compete at higher levels, such as college or even professional football. However, it is essential to keep in mind that the number of high school football players varies significantly across the nation, with factors such as school size, regional interest, and gender influencing participation rates.

In recent years, there has been growing concern over the safety of high school football, particularly related to the risk of injury and long-term health consequences. Despite these concerns, the sport remains a widespread extracurricular activity for students across the United States. According to recent statistics, there were approximately 1,093,234 high school football players in the country. This figure represents a significant portion of student-athletes who are dedicated to the game, showcasing the sport’s enduring popularity. Yet, it’s important to note that participation rates may fluctuate yearly due to external factors, such as public health concerns or shifting cultural attitudes.

Statistics of High School Football Players

National Statistics

During the 2021-2022 school year, the combined number of male and female participants playing 11-player football in U.S. high schools reached a significant number 1. According to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations, 11-player football was the sport with the most participants for boys nationally in the 2021-22 school year 2. A study funded by the NFL reported that high school football players suffered 11.2 concussions per 10,000 games or practices, nearly twice as many as college football players 3.

State-Wise Statistics

NFL players during the 2022 Kickoff Weekend rosters had a diverse background, hailing from high schools in 47 states, the District of Columbia, four countries – Australia, Canada, England, and the United States – as well as the U.S. territory of American Samoa 4. Providing a comprehensive state-wise breakdown of high school football player statistics would be extensive. However, resources like offer a valuable insight into top high school football players, broken down by position and by state 5.

Factors Influencing the Number of Players

Socioeconomic Factors

Socioeconomic factors play a critical role in determining the number of high school football players in the United States. The availability of resources such as proper equipment, training facilities, and investment in coaching staff determines the quality of the high school football program. Additionally, communities with access to better funding and support often see higher numbers of youth participating in the sport.

The appeal of American football as a popular sport, driven by media coverage and professional leagues, has a significant impact on high school participation rates. Recent years have seen an increase in the number of players nationwide, indicating a resurgence of interest. However, trends can change over time, and the sport’s popularity can be influenced by factors such as concerns about player safety and alternative sports offerings.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread disruptions in high school sports programs, including football. With schools temporarily closed and social distancing measures implemented, many young players were unable to participate in their regular football activities. Nonetheless, as restrictions were lifted and schools resumed in-person instruction, the sport experienced a surprising comeback, with increased participation at the high school level. The long-term impact of the pandemic on high school football remains uncertain, but it has highlighted the significance of adaptability and resilience in maintaining participation levels.

Comparison to Other High School Sports

Football vs Basketball

High school football has consistently been one of the most popular sports in the United States. With over 1 million participants, football leads the pack in terms of overall participation numbers 1. Basketball, on the other hand, has around 540,769 players participating in it at the high school level 2.

While both sports boast impressive numbers, football’s total participants considerably outnumber those of basketball. This can be attributed to various factors, such as the cultural importance of football in the US, as well as the larger roster sizes typical of football teams compared to basketball teams.

Football vs Baseball

In a direct comparison with baseball, football still comes out on top in terms of high school participation. With 1,037,234 high school football players across the country, it significantly surpasses baseball’s 482,740 participants 2.

Similarly to the comparison with basketball, football’s larger roster sizes partially contribute to the difference in player numbers. Moreover, football’s strong presence in American culture, particularly in certain regions, plays a role in this heightened level of participation.

Both football and baseball have their share of passionate players and fans, but high school football maintains a strong lead in terms of overall participants.

Implications of High Participation Rates

Scholarship Opportunities

High school football participation rates are notable, with 11-player football having thousands of participants in U.S. high schools each year1. This high level of participation creates opportunities for students to earn athletic scholarships for college. College coaches scout high school football games to identify talent and potentially offer scholarships. These scholarships can significantly decrease the financial burden for the athletes and their families, allowing them to pursue higher education.

Risk of Injury

On the other hand, high participation rates in high school football also increase the potential for injuries. Football carries a certain degree of risk, particularly when it comes to concussions and other trauma-related injuries2. With more students playing football, there is a higher chance that they may encounter such risks. It is crucial for players, parents, and coaches to be properly educated on injury prevention and relevant safety measures.

Overall, it is important for all stakeholders involved in high school football to understand both the benefits and risks associated with the sport’s high participation rates. By doing so, they can work together to create a safer and more positive environment for all student-athletes.

Future Projections of High School Football

The popularity of high school football has seen some fluctuations in recent years. According to Statista, the combined number of male and female high school football participants has experienced changes from 2009 to 2022. As the sport continues to evolve, it is essential to project future trends in high school football participation.

One factor that may impact the future of high school football is the growing awareness of player safety and the potential long-term consequences of injuries sustained during play. Some schools and communities are taking proactive steps to address these concerns, such as updating equipment and implementing rule changes to reduce the risk of injury. These measures may help attract more students to participate in the sport, ensuring its future growth.

Additionally, the talent pool for high school football across the nation is vast, with approximately 16,000 high school teams providing a pipeline of potential athletes. The availability of resources and support for young football players seeking college and professional opportunities may also influence the future participation rate in high school football.

Furthermore, advances in technology and analytics play a role in shaping the future of high school football. Coaches have access to more information than ever before to understand and improve player performance, analyze game footage, and adjust strategies. As these tools become more integrated into high school football programs, participation rates will likely be influenced by how well new technologies are adopted and embraced by both coaches and players.

In conclusion, the future of high school football participation will be influenced by multiple factors such as player safety, talent pool size, and advances in technology. It is crucial for schools, communities, and organizations to recognize and adapt to these factors to sustain the growth and development of high school football in the years to come.