Youth Sports: Prices are High, But the Stakes are Higher

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You already know that getting your kids involved in their sport of choice can be pricey, and though it might seem that way, it’s not just your family. Nationally, a staggering $15 billion per year is spent on youth sports like ice skating and hockey, where rink fees add up, or tennis and soccer, where private coaching adds up quickly.

All over America, families struggle with the day-to-day expenses of keeping their kids involved. And that’s a problem.

Why? Because sports participation is a great way to keep kids active and avoid lifelong obesity and other health problems; being part of a team builds confidence, creates good habits, and nurtures friendships. There are endless studies on the benefits of youth sports.

The trouble is that despite record spending and the increased visibility of youth sports, the percentage of kids involved is actually dropping.  

According to the Aspen Institute’s annual study of youth sports and fitness, dubbed “State of Play,” the percentage of kids participating in “high-calorie-burning sports” (cycling, running, soccer, swimming, football, etc.) has dropped almost five percent since 2011 to a low of twenty-three percent. That’s not great, y’all. Worse yet, it’s not a level, ahem, playing field.

Particularly striking to us was the finding that participation rates are evolving, with families that earn above $75,000 continuing or increasing their participation rates, while participation of families that earn less is eroding. Predictably, the worst decreases over the past seven years have occurred in the lowest income families, with a decrease in participation of almost 4% from last year alone.

Basically, this means that kids aren’t playing enough sports, not because they don’t want to, but because in a lot of cases, it’s just too expensive. The resources simply aren’t there to make participation affordable for all families.

This is why we do what we do. There are a million reasons kids should play sports, but most of all, we want all kids to be able to do what they love.

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