The Future: Sports to watch

Updated: May 19, 2009, 12:20 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

ESPN RISE looks at five sports that could be invading a high school campus in the near future.

[+] EnlargeRebecca Marve
Courtesy Donald PuckettRebecca Marve, the younger sister of Robert Marve, is one of Plant's top flag football players.

Flag Football
With its emphasis on speed, athleticism and flat-out fun, flag football is starting to catch up to softball and track in terms of popularity among girls in Florida. Recognized by the Florida High School Athletic Association since 2003 but played on a club level since 1998, flag football participation in the Sunshine State has grown by more than 500 percent in the past 10 years.

Weightlifting
We all know how impressive those Olympic power-lifting competitions look on TV. Well, turns out high schoolers -- male and female -- are showing their muscle in similar competitions at the state level. In Florida, for instance, last year's girls' champion in the 101-pound class tallied a bench press of 120 pounds and a clean & jerk of 145.

Bowling
No longer a game played solely on Friday nights, bowling is catching on in high school. And we're talking as an officially recognized sport, not on the Wii. During the 2007-08 season, 51,744 high school students participated in bowling (compared to 45,288 participants in ice hockey), an increase of 17,896 since 2003-04.

Skateboarding
Skateboarders as jocks? Maybe that's a stretch, but Tony Hawk's sport is on its way to becoming a legit high school event. The National High School Skateboard Association started three years ago with only seven member schools. Now it has 40. Skateboarding might not be sanctioned by state athletic associations, but it's on its way.

Surfing
The world's best pro surfers often come from the high school ranks, so it's fitting high school surfing competitions are starting to gain traction. With several regional competitions feeding into June's national championships, the National Scholastic Surfing Association is one of the few organizations that crowns a national crown in high school sports.