Oklahoma leads among female sports participation

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The gender gap between boys and girls who play sports is getting smaller and smaller each year, with Oklahoma serving as the nation’s leader in the percentage of female participants according to a report collected by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Girls make up more than 49.1 percent of the nearly 87,000 athletes who participated in high school sports in 2011-12 in the state

Overall about one-in-three high school girls play sports, compared with about half of all boys. And participation varies widely by state. Southern states like Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee still have big gender gaps, while Northern states like Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont are closer to parity.

The National Federation of State High School Associations collects participation data on sanctioned varsity sports from its roughly 18,200 member schools. That’s about 90% of the nation’s approximately 20,000 public and private high schools.

“The OSSAA has a proud heritage of leading equitable athletic competition for high schools throughout Oklahoma,” said Executive Director Ed Sheakley.  “With it being the 40th anniversary of Title IX it’s only fitting that we see continued growth in girls’ sports participation.”

Across the nation an additional 33,984 girls participated in high school sports last year, pushing the total to 3,207,533. That total has also increased for the 23rd straight year.

The top three female sports are outdoor track and field, basketball and volleyball, with soccer passing softball for the fourth spot. Volleyball had an additional 9,571 participants last year, while soccer saw 9,419 more take the field.

Title IX, which bans sex discrimination at schools receiving federal funds, has been behind the growth of sports for women and girls at all levels since it was signed into law 40 years ago.

2011-12 NFHS Summary of Athletics Participation
State Totals by Female Participation

State

Girls Participants

Total
Participants

Female Participation Rate %

  1. Oklahoma

42,664

86,948

49.0684

  1. Minnesota

113,706

238,363

47.7029

  1. New Hampshire

20,761

44,512

46.6414

  1. Pennsylvania

147,261

317,869

46.3276

  1. Alaska

10,313

22,355

46.1329

  1. Vermont

6,964

15,309

45.4896

  1. Maine

23,964

5,2992

45.2219

  1. Arizona

49,925

111,692

44.6988

  1. New York

174,028

389,475

44.6827

  1. New Mexico

19,526

43,802

44.5779

  1. Kentucky

42,515

95,446

44.5435

  1. Connecticut

48,457

110,050

44.0318

  1. Colorado

56,812

129,030

44.0301

  1. Massachusetts

95,365

21,8932

43.5592

  1. Wyoming

8,236

18,917

43.5376

  1. Delaware

11,769

27,091

43.4425

  1. Montana

14,029

32,497

43.1701

  1. Washington

71,018

164,858

43.0783

  1. South Dakota

12,250

28,442

43.0701

  1. Oregon

42,372

98,590

42.9780

  1. Michigan

131,346

308,080

42.6337

  1. Rhode Island

12,126

28,575

42.4357

  1. Idaho

19,006

44,951

42.2816

  1. Maryland

49,235

116,657

42.2049

  1. Virginia

72,885

173,853

41.9233

  1. Hawaii

15,226

36,322

41.9195

  1. North Dakota

10,646

25,499

41.7507

  1. Florida

107,288

25,7282

41.7005

  1. California

325,279

781,912

41.6005

  1. West Virginia

14,895

36,032

41.3383

  1. Wisconsin

78,938

191,692

41.1796

  1. Utah

23,304

56,929

40.9352

  1. New Jersey

105,905

259,219

40.8554

  1. Illinois

141,678

346,896

40.8416

  1. Ohio

135,929

333,349

40.7768

  1. Nebraska

31,258

77,009

40.5901

  1. Indiana

61,333

151,713

40.4270

  1. Iowa

57,314

141,793

40.4209

  1. Missouri

68,803

171,563

40.1036

  1. Georgia

76,011

191,929

39.6037

  1. North Carolina

81,113

205,281

39.5132

  1. Texas

317,990

808,806

39.3160

  1. Kansas

4,0240

102,368

39.3092

  1. Louisiana

39,564

10,0900

39.2111

  1. Nevada

16,225

42,378

38.2864

  1. Arkansas

21,556

57,523

37.4737

  1. District of Colombia

1,262

3,440

36.6860

  1. Mississippi

37,000

100,886

36.6751

  1. South Carolina

34,193

94,305

36.2579

  1. Tennessee

38,650

108,448

35.6392

  1. Alabama

29,400

89,760

32.7540

 

Justin Tinder is the Director of Public and Media Relations at the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.