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Survey Yields Some Surprising Results

Students respond to poll of potential high school sports by nominating an eclectic group, including bowling, hockey, boxing and skateboarding.

September 16, 2004|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

The study was serious.

The results? Well, they were mixed.

Last year, nearly 77,000 high school students responded to the largest sports survey in the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Among the questions: What sport not currently offered would you be interested in playing?

The most popular answers: ice hockey and bowling.

Bowling wasn't a surprise. Its popularity is growing faster than any sport in the nation among high school-aged students, according to the National Federation of High Schools.

But ice hockey? In Southern California?

It's true. At Bell, where soccer is king, nearly 400 male students chose ice hockey, which, some might say, has some similarities to futbol. Except for the sticks ... and the puck ... and the enclosed space ... and the ice ... and ... .

"Maybe they see fighting on television and want to do it," said Isaac Miranda, Bell's senior class president, himself a club ice hockey player.

District administrators seemed puzzled; other officials were amused.

"We have no ice hockey facilities," said Barbara Fiege, commissioner of athletics for the LAUSD. "We have to deal in the real world."

Quipped Lake Balboa Birmingham Athletic Director Rick Prizant: "I'd love to start an ice hockey team -- as long as the district provides us with a rink."

Ice hockey wasn't the only surprise. There were dozens of write-in suggestions from students, some more serious than others. Along with surfing, cycling and archery came mud wrestling, skateboarding and demolition derby.

There was serious reasoning behind the survey, which was produced by the district's Educational Equity Compliance office as part of a process for schools to comply with Title IX, the federal law that requires gender equity in school sports.

Indeed, Kevin O'Connell, coordinator for the compliance office, said that he thought the survey had successfully "unearthed trends in bowling, karate and boxing."

At San Pedro, 37 girls and 24 boys indicated they'd be interested in forming a boxing team. At Manual Arts, 15 boys wrote in "skateboarding" as a potential sport.

O'Connell said the survey would be given to individual schools so they can determine if there's sufficient interest to sustain a viable team.

Of course, for those aspiring ice hockey players, it may take an influx of Canadians to inspire the California Interscholastic Federation to approve ice hockey as an interscholastic sport.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Alternative Sports

Survey results from L.A. Unified students identified three sports as most popular among those not currently offered (with percentages of students who expressed interest in playing these sports):

*--* Gender Bowling Ice Hockey Karate-Judo EASTERN LEAGUE BOYS 15.0 25.5 11.5 GIRLS 17.0 16.3 12.2 WESTERN LEAGUE BOYS 20.0 18.0 18.2 GIRLS 21.2 12.2 19.1 MARINE LEAGUE BOYS 20.1 18.2 14.3 GIRLS 22.5 11.5 15.8 NORTHERN LEAGUE BOYS 15.1 21.2 14.1 GIRLS 18.7 14.4 14.8 COLISEUM LEAGUE BOYS 16.2 21.8 13.3 GIRLS 22.8 14.7 17.3 SUNSET SIX LEAGUE BOYS 18.5 23.0 16.5 GIRLS 21.5 13.6 16.6 VALLEY MISSION LEAGUE BOYS 17.3 19.2 13.9 GIRLS 21.7 15.0 16.0 WEST VALLEY LEAGUE BOYS 18.2 18.3 17.1 GIRLS 18.8 12.8 17.1 FREEWAY LEAGUE BOYS 18.2 18.7 19.1 GIRLS 21.5 12.3 17.1 CROSSTOWN LEAGUE BOYS 25.4 21.2 18.5 GIRLS 30.3 19.0 23.4

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