Football Participation Fell 21% From 2008-13; Rugby, Lacrosse Up

Participation in tackle football fell 21.1 percent from 2008-2013, while rugby and lacrosse experienced the biggest gains, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

Participation in rugby grew 81 percent during that time, while lacrosse saw a 65.9 percent boost, according to the Silver Spring, Maryland-based organization’s U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report. Baseball participation fell 14.5 percent, and basketball dropped 9.3 percent.

Participation in tackle football fell 0.9 percent from 2012-13, the report said. Rugby’s participation climbed 33.4 percent in that time, while lacrosse’s jumped 12.8 percent. Field hockey rose 19.2 percent from 2012-13.

The report didn’t include reasons for the changes.

The most popular sports among 6-12 year-olds are gymnastics and outdoor soccer, the report said. Track & field and tackle football are the most popular in the 13-17 year-old group.

The fastest growing sports in the 6-12 group are rugby (30.5 percent) lacrosse (28.9 percent) and ice hockey (27 percent). The biggest decliners are touch football (6.7 percent), slow-pitch softball (6.5 percent) and tackle football (5.8 percent).

In the 13-17 year-old group the fastest growers are lacrosse (15.6 percent), cheerleading (7.6 percent) and rugby (6.9 percent). The biggest decliners are wrestling (14.4 percent), flag football (10.3 percent) and paintball (9.6 percent).

Basketball and baseball have the highest participation rates among those with incomes as much as $74,999. From $75,000 and up it’s basketball and soccer.