Last week, we were thrilled to see Bryant Gumbel and HBO Real Sports present this concerning segment called “The Price of Youth Sports”. Here are just a few chilling facts from the segment:
- While spending on youth sports will top $17B this year, youth sports participation is down 8%.
- While mega youth sports complexes are popping up across the country and “there is no shortage of parents willing to pay $150+ per hour to get their kids personal training or rent indoor space”, many families can’t afford to have their kids play organized sports anymore.
- The decline in youth sports participation is greatest among households with less than $75K income.
Dev Pathik, youth sports industry expert attributes the explosion in youth sports spending to parents who want their kids to be prepared to play in college. I agree with that statement. But we also need to acknowledge that there is no research showing that spending more on your kids’ sports makes them more successful. So unfortunately, lower-income families are being excluded from programs at the same time that well-off families are on track to spend 3X more on sports in the next five years.
Bottom line: We have a “great divide” in youth sports and this battle needs support on both fronts. On the first front, let’s make youth sports available for all and on the second front, let’s resist the urge to let FOMO (fear of missing out) and unrealistic expectations drive astronomical spending.
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