Sports is a vital part of high schools throughout the country. They help students interact with peers from other cities and schools, instill leadership and responsibility between peers, and help spread college scholarship money to hundreds of thousands of high school athletes who may not be able to afford further education.
While sports like football, baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball have been played between local high schools for decades, new sports are beginning to become sanctioned by individual high schools and even entire state athletic associations.
Not as popular as America's major sports listed above, these new sports are gaining traction thanks to changing technology or health concerns like an increase in concussions. But these new sports are also catching the interest of young people because they are more fun and parents and coaches are finally seeing how they can offer the same values as the age-old ones that fill dusty trophy cases.
These new sports may have been around for quite some time, but have yet to be widely sanctioned by a majority of state athletic associations due to a lack of access or spending limitations. As movements like Title IX and interests in less brutal contact among young athletes have gained momentum, these sports are primed to grow in activity and support.
What is the difference between sanctioned and non-sanctioned high school sports?
In the United States, high school sports are typically sanctioned by the state in which the school is located. This means that the state education agency or athletics association has approved the sport and established rules.
Every state has sanctioned all of the more traditional sports like football, basketball, and baseball, and many as more popular sports like wrestling, cross country, and golf. Some states may also offer less common sports, such as water polo or lacrosse. In general, the goal of state-sanctioned high school sports is to provide the most students as possible with the opportunity to participate in organized athletics, learn teamwork and sportsmanship, and develop physical and mental skills.
Not all high school sports are sanctioned by the state, though. Some schools may offer club sports or other types of extracurricular athletics that are not officially recognized by the state education agency or athletics association.
These programs may not have the same level of structure, support, or interests as sanctioned sports, and they may not follow the same rules and guidelines. Also, because these sports are not sanctioned by the state and operate in independent leagues, high schools may not provide the budget to support the team and provide equipment. In some states, lacrosse and hockey are a good example of popular club sports because they have lower participation, require more travel, and usually have higher infrastructure and equipment needs than more traditional sports.
Here are some examples of sports that are becoming sanctioned by more states around the nation:
Video games used to be considered by many - parents and teachers especially - as a waste of time. But, one of the top emerging team sports in high school and at the collegiate level is E-sports, or competitive video game-playing. High school E-sports is teams typically compete in tournaments and leagues, and the team focuses on a few specific games or game genres.
Based on recent studies, 97
The addition of e-sports to high school athletics has helped shown increase attendance for the participants and even improve grades by up to 10
And for the parents and teachers who still need evidence of video games being productive, listen to this: some colleges have begun to offer e-sports scholarships to talented players.
Wrestling throughout the nation has always been considered co-ed, but it has been dominated by males for decades. Recently, however, a number of states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York have seen an increase in female participation in the sport. Because of the participation, it has led to a few starts to officially sanction the sport within the state. Girls' wrestling teams typically follow the same rules and regulations as boys' wrestling teams, and have established state championships and many similar opportunities so more female wrestlers can compete at a high level.
It is expected that all 50 states within the US will have fully sanctioned girls' wrestling teams.
Ice Hockey (boys/girls)
Ice hockey has been integrated into many individual high schools for quite some time, just not throughout the nation. Obviously it was quite common in some states like Minnesota and Michigan to have it integrated in their state high school athletics associations.
Furthermore, there are many cases where it has been sanctioned for boys, but not girls. This however isn’t the case for much longer, with many schools throughout the nation placing an emphasis on both boys' and girls' ice hockey into their school.
Another sport that has grown in popularity at the high school level is rugby. This is primarily thanks to the collegiate level integrating it at all levels, from Division I to Division III. Again, this is projected to be sanctioned for both boys and girls. This is an important sport to grow as it is played throughout the world, and is continuously gaining popularity.
There was recently a Rugby competition at the Olympic games in 2020, and if America wants to compete with countries like Ireland, they have to start placing an emphasis on the sport at a younger age.
Lacrosse is a sport that has been around for quite some time on the West coast, but it has begun to make its way to the East coast. This sport is going to become a boys and girls sanctioned sport. The drawback with lacrosse is that it can cost the school and families quite a bit of money to compete.
Girl’s Flag Football
While girls have been competing in high school football, the participation levels have been extremely low compared to men's participation. In order to encourage females in football, flag football has begun to be implemented at the high school level for girls. This started to be implemented on the West coast, but it is starting to be more prevalent in states throughout the nation.
One organization that is helping females find a place in the sport of football is USA Football. Currently, they are hosting virtual combine events for girls interested in playing flag football nationally.
The number was starting to grow before the pandemic, just like every sport in America, the participation levels dropped due to Covid. However, after two years of some normal levels, the girls participation in flag football has increased drastically.
Some people in the past may not believe that powerlifting is a sport, who can blame them since there is no ball or team, just a clear objective of who can be the strongest person in the room. However, that belief is long gone as many people across America are starting to get more into powerlifting, and that is starting at the high school level.
Powerlifting is an excellent sport for anyone to get into, the only thing that could hold you back in this sport is your work ethic. Powerlifting focuses mostly on your form and how strong you are.
One organization that is helping athletes find a coach or a gym to connect with is USA Weightlifting, the national governing body for Olympic Powerlifting in the United States. They recently hosted a virtual event looking for the Strongest High School in America.
The good news is that your strength will build as long as you are working hard at it, so it truly doesn’t matter where you start, it’s more important that you dedicate yourself to the sport, and you could be successful.
Sports will forever be a part of the high school environment. For many years it has mostly been the core sports like football, baseball, soccer, and basketball. However, in recent years, many high schools have begun to implement a few new sports for their students. One of the top emerging sports is e-sports, thanks to the emphasis on gaming in recent years. Furthermore, powerlifting, rugby, girls flag football, lacrosse, and ice hockey are all beginning to become more prevalent in high schools throughout the nation.