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High School Sports: Some Good News on the Horizon

Posted By Administration, Friday, September 4, 2020

While this is typically the time of year the National Federation of State High School Associations releases its annual sports participation survey, listing all sports at the high school level and showing numbers of students and schools enrolled, this year has been, well, not typical.

As a result, for the first time in 50 years, NFHS did not release its survey. What it did do, however, was share the following insights about fall sports (the only ones unaffected by COVID):

Girls’ volleyball continued its tremendous growth last fall, increasing by 9,751 participants for a total of 462,559. In the past 10 years, the sport has added 60,000 participants and has passed basketball as the No. 2 sport for girls behind track and field.

Volleyball is played on three surfaces (indoor, grass and sand) and the NFHS tracks indoor and beach. The growth figures are for indoor volleyball (which plays in the fall), which is good news for ASBA’s Courts & Recreation Division, as well as for its Supplier Division.

11-player football, which has been declining in participation for the past three years, according to NFHS, posted its smallest drop to date – just under 2,500 students. (To put that into perspective, the three previous annual drops had been 23,311, 20,540 and 30,829). A four-figure drop, therefore, is a significant improvement.

“These numbers suggest to us that parents are appreciative of the risk minimization efforts that have been put in place,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director. “Every state has enacted rules that limit the amount of contact before the season and during practice, and every state has established concussion protocols and laws. The continued enthusiasm for football has been evident this fall – even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. State associations have worked with government, education and health leaders to do everything possible to offer the sport at some time during the 2020-21 season.”

The NFHS notes that a total of 34 states is conducting football this fall. Some other states have shifted their football season, along with several other sports, including soccer, to spring. In addition, some states have made format or location changes to try to create a more healthful environment; for example, Vermont has shifted to playing 7-on-7 football and outdoor volleyball.

Outdoor volleyball could lend itself to the grass game – something that would be good news for the Fields Division – however, with more demands on fields because of spring football, as well as a host of other traditional spring sports – and any sports moved to spring – schools may find themselves hard-pressed to keep up with the demands for practice and competition space.

It is also likely that students themselves will take the initiative and try new sports that do not involve as much physical contact. Outdoor sports, such as fishing and archery may become more popular. Tennis, having been viewed as a healthy social distancing option, could also spike in popularity, even if schools do not offer play. Esports, which has continued to grow wildly, and which now is an avenue for college scholarships, is also likely to continue its growth trajectory.

“Though a complete participation report for 2019-20 will not be available due to the loss of spring sports,” concludes Dr. Niehoff, “totals on more fall and winter sports from 2019-20 will be formulated in the coming weeks. Judging from the early returns, it appears the past year’s participation numbers would have started the NFHS on a new streak of record participation if spring sports had not been cancelled.”

Tags:  American Sports Builders  archery  ASBA  bass fishing  COVID  COVID-19  esports  football  football fields  gymnasiums  gyms  indoor volleyball  National Federation of State High School Associati  NFHS  NFHS Sports Participation Survey  sports fields  volleyball 

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Expect an Extended Wait for an Announcement of the FIFA World Cup Sites in the U.S.

Posted By Mary Helen Sprecher, Monday, May 4, 2020
Updated: Friday, April 17, 2020

The ASBA members who helped bring the U.S. the 17 stadiums currently under consideration for FIFA World Cup action in 2026 are going to have to wait (along with everyone else) to find out whether their facilities will be in the spotlight. Thanks (or no thanks) to COVID-19, the decision-making process is being delayed, delivering one more blow to cities who had been hoping for some good news.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, who also serves as vice-chair of North America’s 2026 men’s World Cup organizing committee, said that the pandemic’s outbreak has played havoc with the original timeline for picking the tournament’s host venues. A mid-March meeting in Dallas of representatives from the 17 competing U.S. cities was cancelled and has not yet been rescheduled. Similar meetings in Mexico and Canada were also cancelled.

FIFA officials were scheduled to perform site inspections on potential venues for practices and competitions in March and April. Those also have been cancelled. It is possible that the dates for a projected second round of tours, in October and November, might be used instead for the original site inspections – but only if the virus is sufficiently under control.

Either way, the announcement will not arrive in early 2021, as it was supposed to.

It now appears a decision would likely be made in the summer or fall of 2021, which is five years out from the World Cup.

All of that, however, is a remote concern at the moment, when cities are scrambling simply to recoup losses from cancelled sports events and conventions that were to take place this spring and summer.

A total of 23 cities across the United States and Mexico are bidding to host games in the 2026 World Cup. Here are the cities in alphabetical order and their stadiums:

  • Atlanta: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (capacity 71,000)
  • Baltimore: M&T Bank Stadium (71,008)
  • Boston/Foxborough: Gillette Stadium (65,892)
  • Cincinnati: Paul Brown Stadium (65,515)
  • Dallas/Arlington: AT&T Stadium (105,000)
  • Denver: Broncos Stadium at Mile High (76,125)
  • Houston: NRG Stadium (71,500)
  • Kansas City, Missouri: Arrowhead Stadium (76,416)
  • Los Angeles/Inglewood/Pasadena: New NFL stadium (80,000, with potential to expand); Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (around 78,500 after renovation); or the Rose Bowl (87,527)
  • Miami: Hard Rock Stadium (65,767)
  • Nashville: Nissan Stadium (69,143)
  • New York/East Rutherford, New Jersey: MetLife Stadium (82,500)
  • Orlando: Camping World Stadium (65,000)
  • Philadelphia: Lincoln Financial Field (69,328)
  • San Francisco/San Jose/Santa Clara: Levi’s Stadium (75,000)
  • Seattle: CenturyLink Field (69,000)
  • Washington, D.C. (venue is actually in Landover, Maryland): FedEx Field (82,000)


  • Edmonton, Alberta: Commonwealth Stadium (56,335)
  • Montreal: Olympic Stadium (61,004)
  • Toronto: BMO Field (36,000; expansion to 40,000 has been planned)


  • Guadalajara: Estadio Chivas (45,364)
  • Mexico City: Estadio Azteca (capacity 87,000)
  • Monterrey: Estadio BBVA Bancomer (52,237)

The 2026 World Cup is probably the least of FIFA’s worries right now, as the organization is scrambling to reorganize the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.


Tags:  2026 World Cup  ball fields  ballfields  COVID-19  FIFA World Cup  football fields  international soccer  natural grass fields  soccer  soccer fields  sports fields  sports pitches  sportsfields  stadiums  synthetic turf fields 

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