As a child, I used to like participating in sports. I learned the value of hard effort, collaboration, accountability, tolerance, failure management, and forming lifelong connections with teammates and coaches. Kids who participate in sports are less likely to be overweight, more engaged in school. More chances are that they attend college, suffer from chronic diseases with a lesser probability, and are active as parents, according to research. So, why aren’t there more children playing? Here are five major issues with child athletics in the United States today.
Kids are Quitting Too Soon
According to studies, 50% of children abandon youth sports by the age of 11 and 70% by the age of 13. According to the latest study, 76% do not engage in high-calorie-burning activities on a daily basis. That means over 80% of our children are losing out on the tremendous benefits of childhood sports—what a disaster. Kids are quitting at a period in their life when youth sports can provide them with so much, and before they have had the opportunity to physically mature and realize their full potential. Youth sports, in their current condition, according to the children, do not offer enough.
Early Specialization Pressure
Considering youth national championships and year-round training centers, many parents feel compelled to urge their kids to concentrate on a particular sport as early as the age of six. It’s no surprise that children as young as 13 are leaving. They’ve already been doing it for 7 years, practicing 12 months a year, 6 days each week. The National Athletic Trainers Association has issued an official statement advising youngsters to wait as long as possible before concentrating on a sport. They claim that the physical strain of specialization, the stress and pressure, and a lack of relaxation put these young players at a greater risk of injury, exhaustion, and abandoning sports altogether.
It’s Too Expensive
While certain sports are still reasonably priced for many children to participate in, several of the most popular sports are getting increasingly costly. According to a recent survey, the typical household spends $2,300 per year for their kids to participate in sports. Some parents spend as much as 20 grand a year for some of the fastest developing sports, such as lacrosse and ice hockey. Many children and families are being driven out of youth sports as the expense of participation keeps rising. 68 percent of children in homes earning more than $100,000 per year participate in team sports. At $50,000 per year, the percentage reduces to 48%, and at $25k or less, it further comes down to 34%. As income falls, that’s a flat fifty percent reduction.
Too Much Stress, Not Enough Fun
When kids are asked why they no longer play, among the most popular comments is that it is no longer enjoyable. While preparing to handle pressure and compete is a vital aspect of young sports, we’ve pushed it too far. There are a variety of reasons why children aren’t having fun while playing sports anymore.
Not playing with friends.
Lack of free play.
Lack of playing time.
The Wrong Goals
The only aim or gauge of success in most childhood sports, especially as children become older, is victory. Regrettably, victory does not indicate how well you performed. This is especially true in team sports. Sometimes you play brilliantly, but your opponent simply outplays you. You may play better than others, yet you still fail due to variables beyond your control. Winning is essential, but it isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of success and growth. If winning is the only criterion for success, then 50% of children are failures every time they finish a game. We need to shift our mindset and start assessing what really matters. When you assess a child’s individual growth, commitment, and performance, you can tell they’re having a good time.