Differences by gender
Historically, males have higher rates of participation in school athletics than females. However, since 1991, the earliest year for which data are available, the gender gap has declined for eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders. In 2016, the gap was greatest among twelfth-grade students (9 percentage points), a decline from 18 percentage points in 1991. The recent decline from 2013 to 2016 seems to be driven by a decrease in males’ participation, rather than an increase in females’ participation. The smallest gap is among eighth graders:1 percentage point in 2016. While the eighth-grade gender gap was smaller than in 1991 (7 percentage points), most of this narrowing occurred from 1991 to 1999, when the gap fell from 7 to 2 percentage points (Appendix 1).