Stuff is happening in the world of youth sports. If you didn’t read our last article on the topic, maybe hold up and start there.
See, there’s a growing gap in athletic participation between families that earn over $75,000 and those that fall below that mark. Statistics from The Aspen Institute’s 2018 “State of Play” research show us that only ten percent of children from high income families don’t play an organized sport, while a whopping thirty percent of the lowest income kids don’t participate. It’s not hard to understand why.
But how has playing sports become a rich kid’s game?
The answer is both frustrating and complex.
First, money for community-based youth sports has dried up in recent years. Every year, funding for thousands of community athletics programs comes under scrutiny. As state and local budgets tighten, affordable youth sports are often the first things to go. The result is local programs that are funded exclusively by parents, or non-existent. What’s more, the communities which most need inexpensive programs for children (lower income rural and urban areas) are the least likely to have the money to fund them.
The second reason for the ballooning costs is the explosion of hyper-competitive (and expensive) private leagues and travel teams that have started cannibalizing participation in those local programs. These teams offer a hypothetical road to the next level for the most talented athletes, but many of these leagues promise far more than they can deliver in terms of development.
Eager parents all over the country pay thousands per year, plus travel expenses, to keep their kids on the field with these “elite” teams, only to learn that their kiddo just isn’t good enough to earn the college scholarship that they thought was a sure thing. Add in private coaches that cost hundreds of dollars per hour, and it can be a recipe for fiscal disaster for many families.
Does your local program need help raising funds for travel, uniforms, or other expenses? Let’s work together to keep kids in the game!