ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The National Federation of State High School Associations shows sports participation down from just a few years ago. In another study, The New York State Public High School Athletic Association shows in the 2015 to 2016 school year, 575,903 boys and girls took part in sports. For 2018-2019, it dropped to 562,369, a dip of 2.3%. The total number of teams sank by over 1,700 as well.
“I think the opportunity to play sports, you get a ton of life-long learning skills,” says Jason Johnson, who coaches football at Penfield High School. He feels its a shame participation rates are dropping. He says sports can get high schoolers ready for life’s challenges.
“It just prepares you for your everyday living and work,” says Johnson.
A study by the Cleveland Clinic also linked depression in youngsters and those who do not participate in sporting activities. Johnson agrees that kids who are isolated might be more prone to depression.
“I think people feel depressed when they’re not a part of something. Just getting outside and being social. I think there’s a big piece of that,” adds Johnson.
Young basketball players at Cobbs Hill in Rochester say depression is a very real thing that has a direct ripple effect into self confidence, and participation. “When you’re depressed you don’t really want to do too much,” says Shamir Stanley, taking a break from the court.
“Some kids probably just don’t want to go out because they think they’re not good enough,” adds Joshua Barksdale, also shooting hoops. “With me, I’d rather go out to defeat the depression.”
Back on the grid iron in Penfield, some football players agree with that exact thought.
“For me, I know that coming out here kind of helps me escape the stresses of the classroom and everything,” says high schooler Carson Hobler.
Johnson says for youngsters, whatever you might be interested in, there’s a sport for you. “There’s always sports you can play. I even coach bowling,” he adds.