A rise in number of student athletes?

A rise in number of student athletes?

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Across the country, more kids than ever are taking part in high school sports. Is Utah seeing a similar increase? Yes, and no.

The Washington Post says 55.2 percent of students now are also in sports, compared to 54.8 the year before. Swimming and diving saw major increases in participation, as did lacrosse. At the same time, basketball and soccer saw declines nationwide.

Over the last three years, there has been a 0.5 percent increase in the number of children participating in high school sports per year in Utah, which might not be the kind of increase activities officials are looking for.

Utah High School Activities Association Assistant Director Bart Thompson said, "[It's] probably a little concerning because the number of kids that could participate is probably rising faster than that."

Thompson says overall student population is growing faster than the number of participants in student athletics. He has one theory as to why this is happening.

"What we've seen over the past couple of years are more rigid graduation requirements that require kids to take more of the ‘core type' classes," he said.

Some sports, like track and field, are seeing big jumps in participation. Even soccer, which saw a drop in participants nationwide, became more popular in Utah. Meanwhile, cross country and golf are seeing drops.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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