List of High School Sports A-Z

List of High School Sports

High school is a challenging, exciting, and formative time in most people’s lives. Playing high school sports is a way to get more satisfaction and enjoyment out of those years, as well as gain skills and opportunities for the future. As early as the late 1700s, schoolboys played self-organized ballgames, which schoolmasters viewed as valuable exercise and recreation. Baseball and football were the two earliest organized sports played in schools; tennis and track and field soon followed. Organized sports spread across private boarding schools throughout the 1800s and, in 1903, New York City was the first city to organize a sports league for public schools.

Since that time, high school sports have continually grown in participation and popularity, becoming an iconic tradition in American culture. Notably, girls' high school sports have proliferated, particularly after the Title IX legislation of 1972. A range of non-sporting extracurricular activities now vie for students’ attention, but high school sports remain a popular choice. The availability of college athletic scholarships is a motivating factor for student’s to excel at high school sports.  

High School Sports List A to Z


What are high school sports?

High school sports are those sports played by athletes while they are attending high school (grades 9-12 of their secondary education), typically between the ages of 14 and 18. Teams are organized and often partially or completely funded by the schools they represent. Football is the most popular and iconic high school sport. High school sports can be a great way for student-athletes to gain fitness and confidence, as well as give them an advantage when applying to college.

Track and field and football are the most popular high school sports, both drawing over a million participants annually. Football is traditionally a boys’ sport in high school, with the few girl participants making appearances on an otherwise all-boys team. Most schools with a track and field program sponsor both a girls team and a boys team, with participation evenly split between the genders. Behind those two sports, basketball, baseball, soccer, and cross country are most popular with boys, while volleyball, basketball, soccer, and softball are most popular with girls.

What high school sports are in the Olympics?

Some athletes are gifted enough to make a trip to the Olympics while still in high school, such as the nine members of Team USA under the age of 18 who competed in the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games. For everyone else, high school athletics can be a great starting point for a sports career that takes them to an Olympic Games. Most high school sports are also in the Olympics, including basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, cross country, golf, ice hockey, fencing, rowing, swimming, tennis, archery, gymnastics, wrestling, table tennis, skiing, and rugby. The only major high school sports not included in the Olympics are football, lacrosse, competitive dancing, and cheerleading.

What high school sports get the most college scholarships?

Football is the high school sport with the largest amount of college scholarship money available. It also has the largest number of individual scholarships and the most full-ride scholarships; each Division I team offers 85 full scholarships for football players. However, football also has the largest field of scholarship applicants, so an athlete’s chances of obtaining an athletic scholarship may be decreased due to the large pool of eligible students. Lacrosse, ice hockey, and baseball are also good options for student-athletes seeking college scholarships.