I often discuss with other parents the cost of our kids participating in various sports. We all have our reasons, health & fitness, keep kids out of trouble, learning teamwork, etc. but the costs of participation is increasing. My daughter plays four (4) different sports and I might as well be paying college tuition…okay, maybe not that much. I decided to do some research and came across several articles. Over the next month I will post links to these articles to generate discussion. What are your thoughts on the costs associated with the youth participation in organized team or individual sports? Who is playing and why? Is it a good thing or a waste of money and time?
It only takes a quick look around the soccer fields, gyms and pools after school and on weekends to realize that youth sports are huge. But just how big is participation in the U.S.? Who’s playing and why? And more importantly, who’s not playing?
With childhood obesity plaguing one in three American children, participation in youth sports is becoming an increasingly important tool for keeping kids healthy.
In 2013, ESPN called youth sports “so big, no one really knows how big.” Project Play, a report by the Aspen Institute in 2016, stated that three out of four American households have at least one school-aged child participating in youth sports but that only translates to 56.6 percent of American children, despite all the proven benefits.
So, what about the other 43.4 percent?
Hint: It’s About Money
Across the board, more boys play youth sports than girls and suburban children play more than kids in an urban or rural setting. Location is the key to accessing fields and facilities, but the biggest predictor of participation is the parents’ income.
Only 27.5 percent of children from homes with incomes under $25,000 a year play sports compared to the 45.5 percent of kids from homes with incomes greater than $100,000 a year.