INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 11, 2016) – Led by an encouraging report in football participation nationwide, the number of participants in high school sports increased for the 27th consecutive year in 2015-16 according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Based on figures from the 51 NFHS member state high school associations, which includes the District of Columbia, the number of participants in high school sports reached an all-time high of 7,868,900 – an increase of 61,853 from the previous year.
After a decline of almost 10,000 participants in football the previous year, the number of boys playing 11-player football in 2015 was almost identical to 2014 with a drop of just 309 – from 1,083,617 to 1,083,308.
While some states reported a decline in football participation in 2015, 24 states registered increases in boys participation in 11-player football. When combining boys and girls participation in 6-, 8-, 9- and 11-player football, the number of participants increased 138 – from 1,114,253 to 1,114,391.
“The NFHS and its member state associations have taken significant steps over the past 10 years to minimize the risk of participation in football and all high school sports, so this report on the continued strong interest and participation in high school football is very encouraging,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “With the adoption of state laws and protocols for concussion management in place, we continue to believe that the sport of football at the high school level is as safe as it has been since the first rules were written in 1932 – and we believe this year’s participation report is confirmation of that belief.”
After a decline the previous year, boys participation increased about 25,000 to an all-time high of 4,544,574, while girls participation increased for the 27th consecutive year with an additional 36,591 participants and set an all-time high of 3,324,326.
Track and field registered the largest increase in participants for both boys and girls, with an additional 12,501 boys and 7,243 girls. Track and field ranks second to football in boys participants with 591,133, and remains the most popular sport for girls with 485,969 participants.
In addition to track and field, six other top 10 girls sports registered increases in 2015-16, including volleyball, soccer, softball, cross country, tennis and lacrosse. The top 10 girls sports remained the same as the previous year: track and field, volleyball, basketball, soccer, fast-pitch softball, cross country, tennis, swimming and diving, competitive spirit squads, and lacrosse.
After track and field among the top 10 boys sports, soccer registered the largest gain with an additional 7,753 participants, followed by cross country (up 6,710), basketball (up 4,949) and baseball (up 2,248). Although the top five boys sports remained the same as last year – 11-player football, track and field, basketball, baseball and soccer – cross country moved to sixth place ahead of wrestling, which dropped to seventh after a decline of 7,555 participants. Tennis, golf and swimming and diving complete the top 10 listing of boys sports.
Lacrosse continued its rise among emerging sports with 197,572 total participants to rank 10th in girls participation and 11th for boys. Among some of the non-traditional high school sports on this year’s survey, archery (8,668), badminton (17,645) and flag football (12,093) continued to register increases in participation. Also, while boys wrestling had a drop in participation, an additional 2,000 girls participated in the sport last year for an all-time high of 13,496.
Participation in adapted sports also increased in 2015-16 from 8,483 participants to 9,491 with schools in 12 states now offering these programs for students with disabilities.
The top 10 states by participants remained the same; however, Florida moved ahead of New Jersey to eighth position this year. Texas and California topped the list again with 809,075 and 802,117, respectively, followed by New York (372,772), Illinois (344,143), Ohio (319,929), Pennsylvania (319,853), Michigan (295,436), Florida (285,885), New Jersey (279,371) and Minnesota (237,686). Thirty-three of the 51 NFHS member state associations reported increases in participation in 2015-16.
The participation survey has been compiled since 1971 by the NFHS through numbers it receives from its member associations. The complete 2015-16 High School Athletics Participation Survey is attached in PDF format and will be posted soon on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org.
Signs Exclusive Partnership with NFHS Network to Expand Digital Ticketing Nationally
ATLANTA (August 9, 2016) – Huddle and Preptix today announced a merger to create the nation’s largest and most innovative ticketing solution for the high school sports market. The combined company, Huddle, Inc., will be headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia. Huddle offers an integrated digital and paper ticketing solution for both state association post-season events and individual school regular season events. The Huddle leadership team will remain intact, while Jay Barker and Patrick Noles from Preptix will assume senior roles at Huddle.
Additionally, the NFHS Network has selected the merged company as its exclusive partner for a national rollout of a digital ticketing platform for high school sports. Combining the NFHS Network’s media assets with a digital ticketing platform will allow it to raise overall awareness of high school sports, build its subscriber base and create custom sponsorship programs for national brands.
Digital ticketing provides consumers with a convenient way to purchase and redeem tickets online or via a mobile phone. Digital tickets have become increasingly prevalent in the travel, sports and entertainment industries but have yet to materially impact the more than 450 million tickets sold annually to high school sporting events. High school is one of the largest markets in the world that doesn’t provide a digital ticketing option for fans.
“As we grow GoFanTM, our digital ticketing platform, to augment the 150 million paper tickets we deliver annually to over 9,000 schools and 18 state associations, we’re thrilled to have Preptix join our family,” said Joey Thacker, CEO of Huddle. “The Preptix digital ticketing solution and its relationships in the high school market are a perfect complement as we bring an easy and innovative solution for high school sports fans to purchase tickets to their favorite events.”
“Patrick, the entire Preptix team and I could not be more excited about this,” said Jay Barker, founder of Preptix. “While we considered several opportunities with potential partners to expand the Preptix solution to additional states and regions, Huddle and the NFHS Network are the clear direction for the future.”
“Huddle and Preptix are the ideal combination for us as we work with our state association partners to deliver a national digital ticketing solution to the high school sports market,” said Robert Rothberg, president of the NFHS Network. “We’re committed to bringing new and groundbreaking solutions to the high school market, just like we have with our live video streaming and live data platform.”
"With the acquisition of Preptix, Huddle is strengthening its e-commerce solution, as well as bringing new talent to its rapidly expanding metro Atlanta headquarters,” said David Hartnett, senior vice president of Economic Development at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Further, the company's new partnership with PlayOn! Sports and the NFHS Network speaks to the strong and collaborative nature of our region's digital sports and fitness community."
Huddle, Inc. gives brands a local voice, lasting relationships, and a nationally scalable way to rise above a noisy advertising world. With partners that include StateFarmTM, CITGO®, O’Reilly Auto Parts®, Olive Garden® and Taco Bell®, Huddle has built a trusted reputation for driving local sales through innovative marketing programs. Huddle, based in Alpharetta, Georgia, builds programs that are rooted in serving a targeted audience and converting them into passionate brand advocates.
Learn more at HuddleInc.com. Stay up to date on marketing news and local solutions by following Huddle on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Preptix provides schools and associations with a digital ticketing solution that can be utilized for sporting events and other ticketed school events. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Preptix is a pioneer of digital ticketing for high schools and serves as the exclusive digital ticketing provider for the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Learn more about Preptix at preptix.com or by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The NFHS Network is a joint venture of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), its member state associations and PlayOn! Sports. The NFHS is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. PlayOn! Sports is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and is the nation’s largest high school sports media company. All NFHS Network events are available online at NFHSnetwork.com. Follow the NFHS Network on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for the latest news and event information.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 13, 2016) — Effective with the 2017 high school track and field season, a participant who assists an injured/ill competitor shall not be disqualified if an appropriate health-care professional is not available.
The NFHS Board of Directors recently approved all rules changes recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field Rules Committee at its June 13-15 meeting in Indianapolis.
Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Track and Field Rules Committee, said the committee determined that this act of sportsmanship extended to an injured/ill competitor when a health-care professional is not readily available should not result in a penalty.
“The committee wanted to recognize the importance of appropriate healthcare of an ill/injured competitor as well as recognize that at times there may be fellow competitors who may need to assist others who cannot continue,” Oakes said. “Therefore, the committee felt that disqualification shouldn’t be the result of a sportsmanship act.”
In order to be consistent with current sport trends, the committee revised Rule 5-7-3, which reinforces the concept that competitors in distance races only use a standing start and shall remain motionless for the start without their hand(s) touching the ground.
The rules committee voted to combine Rule 6 (Throwing Events) and Rule 7 (Jumping Events) into one rule titled “Field Events” to eliminate duplication of definitions and unnecessary language and the possibility of making a change in the throws and missing it in the jumps.
“The last couple of rules cycles the committee has been trying to eliminate unnecessary and repetitive language. This is the last phase of the clean-up – creating one rule that covers multiple events,” Oakes said.
For purposes of risk management, the committee revised Rules 6-2-14 and 7-2-5, which state that all warm-ups in a field event may not take place until the venue is declared open and required supervision is in place.
In Rule 5-6, the committee moved the Note in Rule 5-6-4 to the new Article 4. Oakes said the results of running events are based on head-to-head competition and all contestants should have the opportunity to compete in the heat earned by the competitor’s place and/or qualifying times.
The committee also approved a change to Rule 3-6-1, which now grants authority to disqualify a runner for a false start to the starter as well as the referee. Also, the starter will now give a signal at the beginning of the last lap in individual races of two laps or more (previously three).
Another change was made in Rule 3-2-4u, which states that the games committee – not the coach – should have the responsibility of providing liquids during the competition.
In Rule 3-10-7, when flags are not utilized, the head event judge utilizes the mechanics to call “fair” or “foul.”
Other changes approved by the committee include:
· The removal of the Note in 4-3-1b(5), which contradicts the rule by limiting the placement of the American flag to one piece of uniform apparel.
· Rule 4-6-5g, which states that it is an unfair act when a competitor receives physical aid from any other person during a race or trial, except as provided in Rules 4-6-5 and 9-7.
· Rule 5-1-3, which notes that, in absence of a curb, if cones are used, they should just touch the inside of the line and be placed about 5 feet apart around the curve.
· Rule 6-2-17, which clarifies how trials are recorded when a legal implement breaks during competition.
· Rule 6-5-9e, which notes that if a shot put competitor touches the top or end of the stopboard before leaving the circle, it is a foul.
· Rule 9-1-3b for cross country states that the race course should include either directional flags and/or directional sign posts.
· Rule 10-2-2, which notes that when multiple takeoff boards are used in the long jump and triple jump, the 20-meter distance shall be from the foul line farthest from the pit.
A complete listing of the track and field rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “track and field.”
According to the 2015-16 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 578,632 boys participating in outdoor Track and Field at 16,358 schools and 478,726 girls at 16,309 schools.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 12, 2016) — High school baseball rules now will require a pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown in a game.
The revised pitching policy in Rule 6-2-6 was one of six rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee at its June 5-7 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Each NFHS member state association will be required to develop its own pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown during a game to afford pitchers a required rest period between pitching appearances.
“We’re pleased that the rules committee worked in conjunction with the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to find an acceptable and reasonable modification to this rule in order to emphasis the risk that occurs when pitchers overuse their throwing arm,” said Elliot Hopkins, NFHS director of sports and student services and staff liaison for baseball.
The AHSAA Central Board of Control, in a proactive move at the recommendation of the AHSAA Baseball Coaches Committee and Medical Advisory Committee, approved a pitch count policy for its member schools last fall. The AHSAA Pitch Count Rule, which has been lauded by baseball groups across the nation, will be implemented in the 2017 season. The previous policy was based on innings pitched per week. The AHSAA Pitch Count Rule can be found on the Baseball Page at www.ahsaa.com.
The Baseball Rules Committee also revised Rule 2-32-2 regarding sliding into home plate. The revised language states: “At home plate, it is permissible for the slider’s momentum to carry him through the plate in the baseline extended.” The committee altered this rule since the physical design of home plate makes it difficult for a runner to break momentum on a slide – as opposed to the other three elevated bases which are elevated.
The committee also revised Rule 3-3-1, which states the umpire has the ability to give three warnings to a coach or player before he or she is removed from the game.
“Officials now have the opportunity to provide a tiered warning system for coaches or players,” Hopkins said. “It provides the coaches or players with a teachable moment to change their unsportsmanlike behavior in order to stay in the game.”
A new article 6 was added to Rule 8-3 to provide a rules reference for an existing ruling in the Baseball Case Book. The new article reads: “When a plate umpire hinders, impedes or prevents a catcher’s throw attempting to prevent a stolen base or retire a runner on a pickoff play, if an out is not made at the end of the catcher’s initial throw, the ball shall be dead and all runners shall return to the bases occupied at the time of the interference.”
The rules committee also approved an addition to Rule 8-4-2, which states that any runner is out when he is physically assisted by a coach. This rule change supports a revision in Rule 3-2-2 Penalty, which states that the runner shall be called out immediately when he is physically assisted by a coach.
A complete listing of the baseball rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page, and select “Baseball.”
According to the 2015-16 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, there are 486,567 boys participating in baseball at 15,899 schools across the country, and 1,203 girls playing the sport in 260 schools.
RENO, NEVADA — Highly respected retired Andalusia High School boys’ basketball coach Richard Robertson was among 12 high school leaders across the United State honored Friday with the prestigious National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Citation Award at the 97th annual NFHS Summer Meeting being held in Reno.
Robertson, selected as recipient of the NFHS Coaches’ Citation, was chosen from a pool over more than 150,000 coaches at more than 19,000 high schools that make up the NFHS membership.
The Citation Award is designed to honor individuals who have made contributions to the NFHS, state high school associations, athletic director and coaching professions, the officiating avocation and fine arts/performing arts programs and is one of the most highly regarded achievements in high school athletics and performing arts.
“Richard Robertson’s leadership has been very important for the AHSAA and our state,” Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Steve Savarese said. “Inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 1996, Coach Robertson played a key role in helping Alabama move through the difficult time of integration as the Alabama High School Athletic Association and its black counterpart – the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association merged in 1968-69.
“Through the years he became a mentor to hundreds of coaches, remained in his home town of Andalusia where he served as the school’s athletics leader and made a difference in the world around him. We are very proud of Coach Robertson and thank him for his many contributions.”
Robertson, a humble “old-school” coach and teacher who reached kids in his 2014-15 just as effectively as he did 50 years ago, said the Citation Award “is not about me as a coach but about the many students who participated in our program at Andalusia throughout my career and all the coaches in our state who understand what a high school coach’s mission really is. I have loved teaching and coaching. We had a lot of successes on the basketball but the really successes are the young people who grew up to be outstanding adults.”
Others recognized Friday included: NFHS Section Citation Award recipients Nina Van Erk, retired executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association; Butch Cope, associate commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association; Gene Menees, assistant executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association; Gina Mazzolini, assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association; Kevin Merkle, associate director of the Minnesota State High School League; Peter Contreras, retired assistant athletic director at the Texas University Interscholastic League; Marc Ratner, Southern Nevada commissioner of officials for the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association; and Brad Garrett, assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association.
Mississippi basketball, football and baseball contest official Harold Cooper received the NFHS Officials Citation. Jay Dunnahoo, executive secretary of the Texas Music Adjudicators Association, received the Music Citation, and Pam McComas, retired director of forensics, Topeka (Kansas) High School, received the Speech/Debate/Theatre Citation.
Robertson retired as the boys basketball coach at Andalusia following the 2014-15 season after 40 years at the school and 50 years in interscholastic athletics. Robertson’s association with his hometown spanned 57 years dating back to his own years as a high-school athlete at Ralph Bunche High School in Andalusia. During his remarkable career, Robertson compiled a 749-357 win-loss record. Among his coaching achievements, Robertson’s 2010-11 team registered a 31-3 record, and his 1996 squad won the AHSAA Class 5A state championship.
Despite these outstanding accomplishments, his “victories” off the court were even more impressive. “Coach Rob,” as he was affectionately known, was a tremendous leader who was a second father to many of his players and an only father to other boys during his coaching days. Among the many individuals who played for Robertson was Robert Horry, who was a part of six NBA championship teams during his professional career. Horry said of his high school coach: “Coach took a skinny kid in 1984 and turned me into the player and man I am today.”
Robertson played a key role in helping Alabama move through the difficult time of integration as the AHSAA merged with the Alabama Interscholastic Athletic Association in 1968-69. Through the years, Robertson became a mentor to hundreds of coaches as he remained in his hometown of Andalusia throughout his career.
Robertson was a member of the AHSAA Central Board of Control for many years, including a term as president. He was granted Central Board Emeritus status in October 2015. In 1996, Robertson was inducted into the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame, and, in 2012, he received the AHSAA’s highest honor, the “Making a Difference Award.”
RENO, NEVADA (June 29, 2016) —Dale County High School Marching Band and Band Director Sherri Miller have been selected the 2016 national recipients of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
Mrs. Miller was present at the opening session of the 97th annual NFHS Summer Meeting at Reno Wednesday to accept the award on behalf of the school and its 60-member marching band. Principal Todd Humphrey, assistant principal Perry Dillard and interim Superintendent of Dale County Schools Lamar Brooks were was also present for the presentation. Among others from Alabama in attendance were AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese, Associate Executive Director Tony Stallworth, Central Board president Mike Welsh, members of the Central Board and AHSAA executive staff.
The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the third year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered.
Mrs. Miller and her band were selected from the more than 4.5 million NFHS high school participants in the arts and other activities as the third recipient of the “Heart of the Arts” Award. It was first presented in 2014.
Dale County High School’s 60-member school band selflessly took it upon itself to support a county rival neighboring school – Skipperville’s G.W. Long High School – during the 2015 AHSAA football playoffs. Long High School does not have a band.
The Dale County Marching Warriors Band raised its own funds and traveled more than 250 miles to its rival’s quarterfinal football game at Flomaton, which Long won, 35-21. The band, under the direction of Miller, inspired the Rebels’ fans with their music and also played at halftime. The following week, the band traveled to Elba for Long High School’s semifinal game.
While Dale County’s selfless acts of kindness were in and of themselves impressive, the story goes beyond that.
During the past eight years, Dale County High School and G.W. Long High School have endured an enormous number of tragic losses.
Among them, Dale County head football coach Todd Horne was killed in a car accident on U.S. Highway 231 a month before the 2008 football season was to begin. Todd Horne was the older brother of current G.W. Long head football Coach Scott Horne.
In January 2015, the school’s then-new band director, Sean Miller, was killed in a car accident less than a mile from the school on the same U.S. Highway 231 where Todd Horne was killed. Miller, 30, replaced her husband as band director just one month after the accident.
Sherri and Sean had one child at the time and were expecting their second child in July. Her band students immediately showered her with love and continue to do so today.
In each of the above instances, this small county made up of small towns and many even smaller communities rallied to provide support for the many families who were suffering with candlelight vigils and prayer rallies, among other expressions of love. Miller says her family and she were indeed one of those families.
“I don’t know what I would have done without the support of my Dale County High School family and the surrounding community,” Miller said. “They really embraced me and helped me find a way to keep going.”
She also remembered her husband’s challenge to each student. “My husband loved music, knew the healing power of music, and the importance of ‘family’ when it came to his band members. He would often tell his students, ‘Every time you play a piece of music, play it like it might be your last time.’ He looked at music as a gift that could lift the spirits of those who listened.”
“Our band kids are very special,” Mrs. Miller said. “They wanted to share their love for music – wanted to give back. They are such a great group of kids.”
Savarese said Dale County High School is an example for all.
“We congratulate and are very proud of Mrs. Miller, principal Matt Humphrey, the Dale County High School marching band and entire Dale County schools system,” said Steve Savarese. “They have shown us all the “heart” behind the music, and the power of love and healing that exists when we use God’s talents for Godly things. Their service to others is an example we all should try to emulate.”
In addition to the selection of the Dale County High School Marching Band and Band Director Sherri Miller as the national award recipients, the NFHS National High School Spirit of Sport Award Selection Committee chose volleyball player Ashley Carson of Ord, Nebraska, as the 2016 recipient of that award.