Sports Participation in Secondary Schools

Participating in school sports is an important means to increase physical activity among adolescents. This brief examines participation during the school year by secondary school students in interscholastic sports (played against teams from other schools) and intramural sports (team and individual sport activities amongst students within the same school). It shows how participation varies by schools’ socioeconomic status and available sports facilities as well as gender. Data were collected from 2009 to 2011 and are representative of U.S. public school students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades.

  • Participation in interscholastic sports is higher at higher SES schools and at schools that have more sports facilities.
  • Many schools have no participation in intramural sports, and among those that do, participation rates are higher for middle school students at high-SES schools.
  • Across all measures, sports participation among boys is higher than it is for girls.