The regional and state by state differences in America are often times quite profound. This chart of the most popular high school sport by state is yet another example of our differences based on what part of the country we live in…
The sport that stands out most on this chart is football. With the exception with a handful of states, football is clearly the favorite sport among high school boys. There is only a single state (Maine) that football does not rank in the top 2 favorite sports for high school boys.
When it comes to girls sports, preferences are much more mixed. Volleyball is a clear #1, but basketball, soccer and track all rank quite highly as well.
The preferences of high schoolers are impacted by what is popular in the country at large. Over the past 30 years football, led by the NFL, has been among the most popular sports leagues of all time. This has influenced many young men to pursue football. If we recreated this chart for the 1950’s it is likely that baseball would be the #1 sport for nearly every state in the country.
Over the past few decades women’s sports has gotten much more competitive than it had been in the past. In previous generations most high school girls would not participate in sports, but that has changed in a big way. Women’s soccer and volleyball are becoming very popular and a corresponding rise in the number of high schoolers participating can be seen.