For a lot of adults today, they played one or more sport while growing up. Whether it was through school or outside of school, many of us got to have fun playing sports with our friends. It also helped to teach us things that you wouldn't have learned inside a classroom. All of this has remained true today- but not as much as we wish.
A new study recently came from The Aspen Institute to reveal that the number of children playing sports has been decreasing. About a decade earlier, 45 percent of children between the ages of six to 12 play a team sport regularly. But in 2018, that same percentage has decreased to just 38 percent. In addition, a majority of children quit playing sports by age 11.
So, why has this sharp decrease taken place? That's what The Aspen Institute wanted to find out- and they discovered three reasons. Those reasons include kids not enjoying the sport anymore, the inconvenience of playing said sport, and the cost of it all. In fact, it seems as though the cost of children playing sports is taking a toll on their enrollment.
The average spending amount on sports was about $692.00, according to The Aspen Institute's study. It's worth pointing out that that's the cost per year, per sport and per child. When you look at it, that's quite the high number for your child just playing a sport. It also doesn't help that children from lower-income households are half as likely to play sports when compared to children who come from households with a higher income.
If traveling is involved with your child's sport of choice, then you're spending about $196.00 annually per child and per sport. It's no wonder that youth sports are now an estimated $17 billion industry. Between enrollment costs, equipment, travel and other costs- and depending on the sport your child participates in- it's going to take a financial toll on any parent. That's especially true if you're from a low-income household.
If your child is itching to participate in sports- but the cost of it is a serious issue- you might still be able to have them participate. Depending on where you live, there may be free programs created by non-profit organizations. They're typically run by volunteers, funded by generous donations that come their way. All kids are welcomed to such programs because these organizations care about kids being healthy while also having fun playing a sport that they love.
But money may not be the only thing keeping kids from wanting to play sports. Another factor that's just as important is the so-called "professionalization of youth sports". That idea stems from society being so intently focused on the possibility of college scholarships, turning pro and becoming famous from playing a sport. That puts so much pressure on a child that it may cause them to crack and quit. This clearly isn't a healthy thing to instill in any child, no matter how much they enjoy a sport.
So yes, the financial aspect of your child playing sports may be the biggest reason that keeps them from playing. But the stress that can come from pushing them too hard if they have been enrolled can also turn them away from sports. Depending on your situation, you as a parent will need to address your concerns so that your child either can or will play sports. It won't be easy, but it is achievable.