High school bowling continues to grow

Participation in high school bowling programs saw a slight increase during the 2009-10 school season, according to the high school athletics participation survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

The NFHS survey found that 52,653 student-athletes participated in bowling programs in 4,886 schools last season, a 2.5 percent increase from the 2008-09 season. The NFHS has compiled a participation survey each year since 1971 based on numbers it receives from member associations.

"More high schools are learning about the value of having a bowling program," said Bob Schoneman, United States Bowling Congress Director of Association and Youth Development. "The costs of a program are minimal compared to some sports, and there are so many opportunities for young bowlers to earn college scholarships."

Last season, bowling was a sanctioned sport for the first time in New Hampshire, and Iowa has made boys' bowling a varsity sport. In five of the last nine years, high school bowling has seen double-digit percentage growth, and the actual number of bowlers in varsity programs has more than doubled in the last eight years.

This season, 19 states will offer bowling as a varsity sport and another 28 states will have high school bowling competition at the club level. The survey accounts for varsity states only, and does not count club programs.

USBC High School is available to help high school bowling programs by providing rules, instruction, membership, awards and industry resources. USBC High School offers a free membership program through which coaches can nominate outstanding bowlers to the national Dexter/USBC High School All-American Team. Coaches also receive resource materials such as the USBC High School Guide.

Starting this season, USBC is offering a membership option to high school interscholastic competitors. The $5 membership offers many exciting benefits to high school bowlers who do not bowl in other USBC leagues. More information is available by clicking here.

"The USBC High School Membership has so much to offer high school bowlers," said USBC High School Manager Breanne Eoff. "Besides awards, they are able to compete in USBC certified tournaments and also are eligible to apply for the many scholarships available through USBC."

For complete results of the 2009-10 participation survey, visit the NFHS website.

Growth of high school bowling
Since the start of the decade, the number of high school bowlers has more than doubled. In five of the last nine years, bowling has seen double-digit growth according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
School year  Boys (schools)   Girls (schools)    Total      Increase
2009-10        27,711 (2,451)    24,942 (2,435)    52,653    2.5%
2008-09        27,311 (2,469)    24,061 (2,388)    51,372    2.6%
2007-08        26,652 (2,298)    23,413 (2,242)    50,065    11.9%
2006-07        23,705 (2,137)    21,359 (2,053)    45,064    6.0%
2005-06        22,195 (2,009)    20,287 (1,926)    42,482    7.6%
2004-05        20,634 (1,797)    18,815 (1,705)    39,449    15.2%
2003-04        17,849 (1,504)    16,383 (1,494)    34,232    14.5%
2002-03        16,002 (1,281)    13,886 (1,176)    29,888    16.6%
2001-02        12,597 (1,046)    13,029 (1,061)    25,626    22.1%
2000-01        10,115 (828)       10,861 (898)       20,976    6.4%

Top states
New York had more than 8,000 students competing in high school bowling programs in 2009-10, according to the NFHS. The states with the highest participation in high school bowling:
1. New York, 4,630
2. Ohio, 3,776
3. Michigan, 3,716
4. Illinois, 2,833
5. New Jersey, 2,593
1. Illinois, 3,485
2. New York, 3,450
3. Ohio, 3,074
4. Michigan, 2,887
5. New Jersey, 1,808