High School Football Participation in California is Declining

For the sixth straight season, 11 players’ participation levels in California high school football have declined, according to the CIF’s annual participation survey.

No surveys were conducted in 2020-21 due to the pandemic. For 2021-22, 84,626 played football, compared to 89,756 in 2019-20 and 91,305 in 2018-19. There has been a decline every season since 2015. The pandemic has also caused the loss of players through the absence of lower level programs.

Even though the number of football participants is down, there are signs of a potential reversal. Simi Valley coach Jim Benkert said he had 60 freshmen for football, up from 30 last season. Loyola has over 100 freshmen for football. Oaks Christian has 47 players for freshman football, up from 28 last season.

“It’s shot,” Benkert said of the turnout levels.

Oaks Christian coach Charlie Collins said he believed the decline could be attributed to the growth of football and the way football programs are run with a decline in the number of quality coaches. Benkert said the growth of lacrosse has also had an impact.

Overall attendance at CIF is 763,606 students, down 7.6% since the 2019-20 survey.

“While football numbers have declined this year, as well as most other sports, we are hearing anecdotal reports from member schools that attendance numbers are looking good this fall,” said Ron Nocetti, CIF Executive Director. . “We can’t wait to see if the 2022-2023 census confirms this.”

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