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High school athletes take to alleys – the bowling kind

Laugh, if you will, but easily the fastest-growing sport among high schoolers is ... bowling, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. By last year, it says, roughly 42,000 students were competing in the sport nationwide, and the number of schools sponsoring bowling teams had more than doubled (since 1971) to roughly 2,000. In fact, interscholastic bowling at the varsity level is offered in about a dozen states. Among the factors that make it attractive: its appeal to students who may not gravitate to other team sports; the social atmosphere (especially when teams are coed); and its low cost, since schools can use commercial lanes rather than their own facilities. The fastest-growing high school sports, based on the percentage of participation growth between 2001 and 2006, using data compiled by the national federation:

Girls' sports
•Bowling 85.4%
•Lacrosse 60.4%
•Track and field (indoor) 29.3%
•Competitive spirit (i.e. cheer-leading) 11.3%
•Cross country 11.0%

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Boys' sports
•Bowling 117.1%
•Lacrosse 55.5%
•Track and field (indoor) 17.7%
•Cross country 10.6%
•Ice hockey 9.6%