Participation in Nebraska high school sports steady despite national decline

A recent report by the National Federation of State High School Associations says that participation in high school sports has declined for the first time in 30 years. Despite the decline, high school sports, and other activities, are doing just fine in the Cornhusker State.

“Nationally participation numbers are down. When you compare last year to the previous year in Nebraska we were actually up,” said Jeff Stauss of the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA). “We have a number of activities that over the last five years have trended up every year, and as a whole our participation over the last five years has trended up as well.”

As a whole, Nebraska is doing well compared to other states. Some individual sports have seen a decline in the past five years, mainly in football.

That decline is partially because some school districts have switched to six- and eight-player football teams instead of the regular 11 due to declining enrollment.

One area that has seen an increase is fine arts.

“What we’ve seen over the last five years is a strong increase in our fine arts activities: speech, one act play production, journalism; those are all activities that we offer here in Nebraska. Not all states offer all of them and we’ve seen a very strong increase over the last five year period,” Stauss said.

Those activities are under the NSAA umbrella. Officials also say girls volleyball is doing very well, likely thanks to the Nebraska Cornhuskers volleyball team, and boys cross country has also seen gains in recent years. However, boys’ basketball is down slightly.

NSAA says that they actively work to ensure as many kids as possible are able to participate in some sport, and are not worried about the future of participation in the state.

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