Minnesota girls sports participation leads nation

Numbers show participation rate nearly equal to boys

Sloane Martin
August 21, 2018 - 1:15 pm

Minnesota is a national leader in girls participation in high school sports.

Per capita, Minnesota has more girls playing sports than any other state and the rate is more than 60 percent higher than Wisconsin's, according to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Minnesota State High School League executive director Erich Martens says it shows that commitment to providing equitable resources and opportunities pays off.

"Minnesota accepts that and embraces that and continues to work hard to grow that," he said.

Minnesota female prep athletes could soon surpass boys' participation, too. Girls make up 49 percent of all prep athletes in the state -- which also leads the nation -- and the numbers have steadily grown.

Nationwide, pre-Title IX, girls made up seven percent of total athletes. After 1972 that jumped to 17 percent, and then nearly a quarter. In 2016-17 girls accounted for 43 percent of prep athletes nationwide.

There's still a way to go achieve equality, but Martens says for this generation, female athletes are ubiquitous. 

"It's always been there for them," he said. "When they were born, we had the majority of the sports we currently have, so they've grown up seeing examples within their high schools and obviously colleges."

Minnesota also offers more sports, especially winter sports, that some states can't. Girls participation has increased in every one.

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