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Why do HS Athletes Play Football?

In 2017 over 1 million high school students participated in football. That is nearly one in four high school aged boys. While high school football participation is down from it’s all time peak of 1.1 million in 2009, more high school boys participate in football than any other sport, with football participation being almost double the second most popular sport (track and field).


We wanted to understand what motivates high school kids to play the game we all love so much. We asked hundreds of college bound football players in the class of 2019, why they play football?   

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Not surprisingly, the #1 response to our survey is that these athletes participate in football because it is fun. Additionally, over 50% of the athletes that responded to our survey also play because they are good, because of the friendships with teammates they have made, and because it is a way to earn a college scholarship.  

It appears that we are moving away from the days of pressured participation, best portrayed in movies such as Varsity Blues. Our survey found that not a single athlete filling out the questionnaire plays because of peer pressure, and less than 5% play because their parents wanted them to.   

To grow your program and encourage participation and engagement from your players try the following:

  • Make sure that your players have fun

  • Use frequent team building events such as the ones described in THIS article

  • Be sure to find out what athletes are interested in playing college football, and help them navigate the process.

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