The sports scarcity

A noticeable drop in participation for high school sports leaves coaches scrambling for players


The sports season is usually the most fun, chaotic, and rewarding time of the year for students in high school, but something is causing some students at Centennial to opt out of these opportunities this year. 

Historically, Centennial consistently draws enough players for their sports teams. However, in the fall of 2018, the Eagles were forced to drop out of the football season for not having enough players to fill a varsity team. This was a huge eye-opener for the football program, and something they never wanted to repeat. This year, however, both boys and girls lacrosse were having trouble finding players for the upcoming spring season, a problem made obvious throughout the school, as there were dozens of posters and flyers trying to draw interest. After weeks of strong advocacy and heavy advertising by coaches through emails and classroom visits, the lacrosse teams were finally able to meet the required number of players.

This lack of participation in high school sports is something schools have been struggling across the country post-Covid, which gives coaches a tougher job than any x’s or o’s on the drawing board. At Centennial, both the JV and varsity programs for football, girls’ soccer, and field hockey did not make any cuts during tryouts for the 2022 fall season. The question poses itself as to whether a team making no cuts is a problem, or if that is an advantage for the team making selections. While it seems that the participation could be a problem going forward, Centennial does boast some very strong programs, including a state finals appearance by the boys soccer team, a county championship from the volleyball team, and a regional championship by cross country this fall season. 

There are many plausible reasons as to why sports participation is becoming a problem, but is it really something unfixable? Current and longtime Centennial Athletic Director Ms. Jeannie Prevosto has seen it all throughout her thirty years in the field and sees a few reasons for the school’s drops in participation. She thinks that “kids are overextended” and because “they are engaged in so many things”, they lose interest in the activities they used to love. It is difficult for kids to stay passionate about sports when it causes them to overlook other aspects of their lives. 

Another possible reason for the lack of players is that kids are now focusing on only one sport in order to get better at it, as opposed to trying multiple other sports for fun. “Specializing in one sport is not healthy for kids because it’s the same impact, same muscles, same joints,” Prevosto adds. There is now less of a chance that a kid would pick up a lacrosse stick or baseball bat for the first time and try out for the high school team. By high school, that person already has their specific sport to specialize in, causing them to stay away from every other sport. Prevosto’s message to student athletes is that “it’s great to have a love, but…it’s great to play other sports that can help build cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and also benefit you in the sport you are very passionate about.”

It is important for Centennial to keep advocating for new players and coaches, with coach outreach being an initiative the athletic program has started to advocate for. In addition, the school will need a greater attempt at trying to draw interest for the upcoming season. 

Prevosto thinks back to what encouraged her to play a sport in high school, and it started with her coaches: My biology teacher was my softball coach, my phys-ed teacher was my volleyball coach, my guidance counselor was my basketball coach. I think that is so beneficial in so many ways. You have favorite teachers, and if one of your favorite teachers is your coach, you and your friends are going to play. That’s a huge piece.”

The shortage in participation for high school sports could be less of a problem over the next few years. The school will continue to improve the interest and excitement behind sports seasons and bring back the motivation for people to come out for teams. Prevosto is not too concerned with the current drop, stating, “This is my 30th year, I have seen cyclical sports participation. I’ve seen really high numbers for girls’ soccer or field hockey and then a couple years [later] it takes a dive and then it resurges.” It is clear that it will be up to the new age of high school student athletes to determine the fate of high school sports.


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