How Many High School Football Programs Are There in the US?

David Bennett Galloway III

November 7, 2023

How Many High School Football Programs Are There in the US?

High school football is deeply ingrained in American culture, with millions of students participating in this beloved sport each year. But have you ever wondered how many high school football programs there are in the United States? In this article, we’ll dive into the numbers and explore the vast landscape of high school football nationwide.

The Scope of High School Football

High school football is not just a sport; it’s a tradition cherished for generations. It brings communities together, instills discipline in young athletes, and provides a pathway to higher education through scholarships. To understand the extent of high school football in the US, we need to break down the numbers and examine various aspects.

Number of High Schools Offering Football

One of the primary indicators of the prevalence of high school football is the number of schools that offer football programs. As of my knowledge cutoff date in January 2022 there were approximately 14,000 public and private high schools in the United States that fielded football teams. These schools compete in various divisions, ranging from small rural schools to large urban powerhouses.

Participation Rates

High school football is not only about the number of schools but also about the number of student-athletes who participate in the sport. On average, there are over one million high school football players in the US. The exact number can fluctuate yearly due to population changes and shifting interests among young athletes.

State-by-State Variation

High school football’s popularity varies significantly from one state to another. Some states, like Texas, Florida, and California, have a robust football culture, with many programs and intense competition. In contrast, conditions in the Northeast and Midwest may have fewer programs and lower participation rates.

School Size and Classification

High school football programs are often categorized based on the school’s enrollment size. Schools are divided into divisions or classes, with larger schools competing against one another and smaller schools doing the same. The number of programs in each classification can vary widely, with more densely populated areas typically having a higher concentration of schools.

Influence of Popularity

The popularity of high school football is dynamic and can change over time. Factors such as media coverage, the success of local college or professional teams, and societal interest shifts can impact the sport’s popularity in different country regions.

Financial Considerations

Running a high school football program requires financial resources for equipment, coaching staff, facilities, and more. Some schools may need help maintaining their football programs due to budget constraints, while others invest heavily in the sport.

Impact of Title IX

Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities, has also influenced the landscape of high school sports, including football. Schools must provide equitable opportunities for both male and female athletes. While football is predominantly a male sport, Title IX has increased opportunities for female athletes in other sports.

High school football is a cornerstone of American culture, with a rich history and a widespread presence nationwide. While the exact number of high school football programs can change yearly, the sport remains a significant part of the high school experience for countless students. Whether you’re a die-hard fan, a proud parent, or a curious observer, understanding the scope of high school football in the US helps us appreciate the enduring impact it has on communities and young athletes nationwide.