Most Popular High School Sports (U.S.)

Name the sports with the highest rate of participation in American high schools.
For 2018–2019. Source.
Change = since 2008–2009
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: October 30, 2020
First submittedAugust 26, 2013
Times taken52,624
Rating4.53
4:00
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Participants
Change
Boys' Sport
1,037,234
-9.0%
Football
684,904
9.5%
Track & Field
540,769
-0.8%
Basketball
482,740
2.0%
Baseball
459,077
19.6%
Soccer
247,441
-7.5%
Wrestling
269,295
16.4%
Cross Country
159,314
1.4%
Tennis
143,200
-8.8%
Golf
136,638
5.0%
Swimming & Diving
113,702
28.3%
Lacrosse
63,563
28.8%
Volleyball
Participants
Change
Girls' Sport
558,970
8.0%
Track & Field
452,808
12.0%
Volleyball
399,067
-10.3%
Basketball
394,105
14.4%
Soccer
368,640
-3.3%
Softball
219,345
10.7%
Cross Country
189,436
6.7%
Tennis
173,088
8.9%
Swimming & Diving
161,358
37.0%
Competitive Spirit Squads
99,750
53.6%
Lacrosse
79,821
15.3%
Golf
60,824
-5.8%
Field Hockey
+2
Level 32
Nov 11, 2013
In that case, why don't you just accept "Running" for Track and Field, considering that is about...let's see, 100% of the events in that category?
+10
Level 82
Nov 16, 2015
Typical high school meet has 6 pure running events, 2 or 3 hurdles races, 2 relays and 7 field events. It is not just "running."
+3
Level 63
Jan 15, 2016
Running entered my mind as well but after looking for a translation cause I thought "what the heck is track and field???" I agree that just "running" should not be accepted. I used to do track and field butjust didn't know it was called that in English.
+2
Level 78
Apr 30, 2016
If a kid said he/she was on the "running" team, you wouldn't believe them. It's like Ted Cruz telling an Indiana crowd about the basketball "ring".
+1
Level 77
Apr 24, 2020
According to Wikipedia "track and field" means only stadium events, while athletics include also road running, cross country running and racewalking. Most if not all other languages don't have a special name for stadium events.
+2
Level 67
Aug 12, 2019
shouldn't running be cross country? track and field has some running events but is not ALL running
+1
Level 17
Nov 11, 2013
Can you accept "swim" for "swimming and diving" - you accept track, so why not?
+1
Level 24
Dec 21, 2013
What about lacrosse?
+2
Level 77
Jan 18, 2014
Obviously it didn't make the list.
+1
Level 26
May 31, 2014
HAHA
+1
Level 49
Jan 17, 2015
its not widespread like other sports like football and baseball/soccer basketball etc I dont wanna give away all the answers
+1
Level ∞
Nov 8, 2015
I expanded the list by a couple. Lacrosse qualifies now!
+2
Level 14
Apr 4, 2014
hunna
+2
Level 71
Apr 26, 2014
GOLF?? In school? Are you kidding me? OK, perhaps it's just because I'm Canadian and such a thing would not even be thinkable with our climate, but my mind is totally boggled.
+1
Level 74
Jan 15, 2016
I'm from Northern California and golf has been popular in school for a long, long time. Not just in the Tiger Woods era either.
+1
Level 79
Jan 16, 2016
Golf was popular at my school in the 1960s.
+1
Level 60
Apr 4, 2018
I played golf in high school. It was awesome.
+3
Level 82
Jun 27, 2014
Soccer didn't even enter my mind. I already answered football! :)
+2
Level 57
Jan 15, 2016
Thank you Archer for 'Lacrosse'.
+2
Level 50
Jan 15, 2016
It's really a great game. A violent sport that won't bash your brain into little pieces like football will.
+1
Level 26
Jan 15, 2016
accept hockey man
+1
Level 61
Jan 15, 2016
Don't like how it didn't accept hockey for field hockey! I wasn't expecting all US high schools to have an ice rink in the sports hall!

Not bad getting 13/15 for an Englishman though. At high school we played football but that was actual football, what you call football we did rugby, baseball suppose we called rounders or just played cricket!

Didn't think of softball though but I did try handball. Don't do either where I'm from so I'll take that

+1
Level 60
Jan 15, 2016
Why didn't the quiz accept "hockey" for "field hockey"?
+1
Level 56
Jan 15, 2016
What the HELL is field hockey?
+1
Level 44
Jan 15, 2016
It's the same thing as hockey but no ice
+1
Level 40
Apr 2, 2017
I thought People Knew About it, Honestly, Ice Hocket isn't the only one... >:(
+1
Level 67
Aug 12, 2019
its just the only good one... haha j/k
+1
Level 68
Jan 15, 2016
Please accept "hockey" for field hockey.
+4
Level 61
Jan 15, 2016
In Australia there is no such thing as "Field Hockey", we just call it hockey, which is what I typed as a long shot; and it wasn't accepted. I thought ice hockey would be in there. It's really popular in the states, isn't it?
+1
Level 55
Jan 15, 2016
Not so much. There are small areas where it is very popular but not widespread.
+1
Level 79
Jul 12, 2018
Professional hockey is popular, but not many schools, - especially in the warmer states - have access to an ice rink.
+1
Level 55
Jan 15, 2016
Completely forgot about tennis.
+1
Level 47
Jan 15, 2016
As a canadian I am highly surprised theres no hockey on this list
+1
Level 64
Jan 15, 2016
Can u accept hockey for field hockey?
+1
Level 34
Jan 15, 2016
You should accept hockey for field hockey.
+1
Level 66
Jan 15, 2016
Why isn't hockey accepted for field hockey?
+14
Level ∞
Jan 16, 2016
Okay, you wore me down. Hockey will work now. But I don't like it. In the U.S. when someone says hockey, they are referring to ice hockey.
+1
Level 83
Jan 15, 2016
For all you people complaining about "hockey" not being an acceptable answer for field hockey, you do realize that "hockey" by itself is not an actual sport. There is no sport that is just called hockey. There's field hockey, ice hockey, roller hockey, sledge hockey, street hockey, and so on and so forth.
+1
Level 83
Aug 2, 2016
This calls for this song. All you hockey arguers will appreciate it.

https://andrewqueen.bandcamp.com/track/hockey-song

+1
Level 79
Jul 12, 2018
That's a lotta hockey.
+1
Level 67
Aug 12, 2019
if your Canadian, hockey is ice hockey. no need to qualify it unless your talking about one of the more obscure ones. it's the NHL, national hockey league, not the national ice hockey league
+1
Level 83
Oct 24, 2019
Okay, I'm not Canadian, so I'll take your word for it. But this is a quiz about U.S. high school sports, and there's more than just ice hockey in the U.S.
+3
Level 52
Jan 15, 2016
Why isn't marching band considered a sport? There are marching band competitions and it's definitely physically rigorous.
+3
Level 67
Jan 16, 2016
Agreed. It's as much a sport as cheerleading is.
+1
Level 67
Aug 12, 2019
I'm not gonna argue that marching band isn't a sport, but competitive cheerleading takes a lot more athletic ability than marching band. it's basically gymnastics with a larger group
+1
Level 78
Apr 30, 2016
But I don't think it would make the list. Most serious marching band participants doing the kind of vigorous work you're talking about do it through a club, not at their high school. And in a lot of states/cities, it has been cut from the curriculum.
+2
Level 79
Apr 4, 2018
It's difficult to know where to draw the line between sports and performance art. Marching bands do engage in field competitions as well as street competitions, but is their main focus on the physical competitions or on the music? It's the same with drill teams and dance teams. They are physical in their movements but they are also artistic. I'm not sure that makes them a sport. I was a member of marching band in high school and I never thought of it as a sport, but I can see both sides of the argument. Again, where do you draw the line? Some schools don't have football and their bands only march once or twice a year in parades and play concerts. Their focus is much more on learning music. Maybe calling those bands who do the rigorous field competitions by a different name - competitive musical field performance or something similar would solve the issue. One could argue that singers do physical workouts with their voices, but I can't see calling choir a sport, either.
+1
Level 67
Jan 16, 2016
How in the hell did I miss soccer? Ugh.
+1
Level 80
Jan 17, 2016
I'm surprised it's as far up the list as it is... when I was going to public school soccer was pretty much exclusively a sport for five or six year old children, and sometimes girls.
+1
Level 47
Jan 17, 2016
for those of you that care boys ice hockey was the highest number of participants (35,393) of the sports that were not listed on this quiz. I thought the number would be higher but I guess junior hockey takes away from the number of kids playing it in high schools. Or it may be that I live in hockey crazed Massachusetts.

And yes Bobby Orr can still walk on water!!

+2
Level 47
Jan 17, 2016
How about this for why bother: there is only one school under each male and female offering pentathlon with four participants listed for each gender. They must have a real tough time making up a schedule each year. Can anyone say private school?
+1
Level 35
Jan 17, 2016
Well, no wonder swimming's more popular with girls than boys!
+1
Level 77
Jun 10, 2016
Coming from the UK, I found this quite difficult. Almost every sport I thought of seemed to be particular to Britain. Netball - nope. Cricket and rounders - replaced by baseball. Etc.
+4
Level 34
Apr 3, 2017
go cricket
+2
Level 77
Feb 4, 2018
Cricket is great - rounders is better.
+1
Level 51
Jul 8, 2017
Drill team should be accepted for competitive spirit squads. That's what some are called here.
+1
Level 69
Jul 10, 2017
I guess sex, like chess, is a just a game to you people!
+1
Level 46
Aug 11, 2017
Can you accept NFL for american football??
+4
Level 54
Feb 23, 2018
No, because this is high school sports. Hopefully there aren't any high schoolers in the NFL...
+2
Level 79
Oct 11, 2017
What, no buzkashi??!!!
+3
Level 70
Nov 15, 2017
Marching band should be on here. Let the arguments begin.
+3
Level ∞
Dec 22, 2017
Prediction for 2050: Soccer will be #1 for both genders. Ultimate frisbee will be in the top 10. Wrestling and softball/baseball will fall by over 50%.
+3
Level 54
Feb 23, 2018
Nooooo! Oklahoma State's twenty-three meaningless wrestling titles will be even more meaningless!
+2
Level 74
Apr 4, 2018
Won't cricket have taken over by then?
+2
Level 83
Apr 4, 2018
You may be right but I doubt soccer will pass football just because of the numbers and that we are only 30 years from that date. Most high schools over 150 per class already have multiple levels of soccer (Varsity, JV, freshman). With 20 kids per squad that's only 60 to 80 per high school. A high school of that size will usually have 50 kids just on the varsity football team. Throw in the other levels and you'll get 120 or so kids. I don't think there is enough time for it to catch up given it's huge lead. Especially when you consider that it probably won't grow as aggressively in the past 20 years as it has reached it's theoretical maximum participant size in many schools. To get soccer past football lost of schools will have to drop the sport entirely.
+1
Level 77
Apr 24, 2020
It's more likely if you take into account the change in demographics (more Hispanics), not just changing sports popularity.
+2
Level 79
Jul 12, 2018
Don't forget competitive video gaming. If it's accepted into the Olympics a lot of previous arguments about whether this or that qualifies as a sport will be shot to heck.
+1
Level 67
Aug 12, 2019
if video games make the olympics then I give up on the olympics
+1
Level 58
Feb 23, 2018
I think Track & Field should encompass Cross Country and they shouldn't be separate. Otherwise you should break out the track events like high jump, long jump, 100-yd dash, etc...???
+2
Level 37
Apr 4, 2018
Is cross country on a track or a field?
+1
Level 77
Oct 29, 2019
Cross country is a fall sport, track is spring. Also, cross country is generally not run on tracks. Otherwise, it would be called "Track".
+1
Level 77
Apr 24, 2020
Wikipedia says track&field is just stadium events (no marathon and other road racing, cross country and racewalking)
+1
Level 49
Apr 4, 2018
I graduated in 1994 and I just mentally tried to remember what sports were listed in my yearbook. We had most of them..no swim team but did have golf. Field hockey and lacrosse were huge in my school.
+2
Level 54
Apr 4, 2018
Why is American rugby called football and football called soccer?
+4
Level 37
Apr 4, 2018
Rugby and American football are fairly different
+2
Level 79
Apr 4, 2018
Ask the Brits. They used the word soccer first as a short form of Association Football to distinguish it from "rugger" or Rugby Football. Americans got the word from them, and we kept using it since we were already calling another game football. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/06/why-we-call-soccer-soccer/372771/
+1
Level 57
Apr 4, 2018
If competitive cheer is considered a sport for this list, so should marching band.
+1
Level 69
Apr 4, 2018
Ultimate would totally be on there if schools sponsored it.
+2
Level 27
Apr 4, 2018
Where is the Marching Band :-'(
+2
Level 64
Apr 4, 2018
It was my first guess. I quit when it didn't come up.
+1
Level 62
Apr 5, 2018
On the boys side, wrestling and cross country are out of order.
+1
Level 73
Apr 8, 2018
(online) poker?
+1
Level 55
Apr 10, 2018
Wait no ice hockey!? As a Canadian I'm disappointed.
+1
Level 65
Jul 12, 2018
You should include fastball for softball. This is commonly used to distinguish "slow pitch" baseball from windmill style pitching which is the common sport for female baseball players.
+1
Level 58
Jan 20, 2019
How close did water polo get to making this list?
+1
Level 80
Aug 12, 2019
Marco!
+1
Level 53
Aug 12, 2019
What's cross country? Cross country skiing? Cross country cycling? Cross country running?
+2
Level 80
Aug 12, 2019
running
+1
Level 55
Aug 12, 2019
wow i'm surprised hockey didn't make the list
+2
Level 71
Aug 30, 2019
What no Cricket ;)
+1
Level 48
Mar 17, 2020
Lacross doesn't work for lacrosse? Running doesn't work for cross country? Gymnastics, acrobatics, nor dancing work for competitive spirit squads? I either have the wrong perception or the quiz is too strict.
+1
Level 46
Jun 23, 2020
As a Minnesotan I put Hockey down first, i forgot that we aren't normal. Also for the Cheer debate, my school had both a cheerleading squad and a competitive dance squad. the cheerleaders were not athletes, however the dance team were definately athletes, then again they did win state my senior year