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Sporting Matters with Spence… On the Decline

Last week I mentioned that youth sports are in the midst of a major crisis. I’ve actually been doing lots of research on this topic too. Scary thought I know. I waited until I turned 40 to do my homework. So, I recently found some figures to support my claim.

According to the findings of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association published earlier this year — athletic participation for kids ages six through 12 is down an alarming eight percent. Forty-five percent of those children regularly played a team sport in 2008 and now only 37 percent of our kids sadly participate nationally. This is bad.

Here’s another staggering number to think about — nearly two out of every three children will drop out of all sports by age 10. I am no expert, but this is a crazy statistic. Sixy-six percent of all boys and girls who were introduced to a TEAM sport will completely stop playing by the 4th grade. Troubling.

Most folks blame it on pure laziness. OK. I admit that this generation is a tad different. But parents and kids are much BUSIER these days. It takes a major commitment to play a youth sport and many of our youngsters would, quite frankly, like to do something else. I don’t blame them. It’s a mess. Perhaps another time.

Youth sports are so dang expensive nowadays. It is said that one in five families will pay over $1,500 per child every year just to cover the costs of registration fees, gear, uniforms, coaching, and much more. It’s insane.

Then there’s this abundance of iPads and gaming systems galore. Every kid has one and it’s a huge business. They are seriously replacing sports. While this may surprise you, millions and millions of kids would rather spend time playing or even watching someone else play video games. These eSports are huge.

A multiplayer video game championship recently sold out a 40k seat World Cup Stadium and gamers tuned in from all over the world. The event was streamed online and it incredibly drew an audience of 27 million. To provide some perspective, that’s about the same, or more than, the viewership of the final round of the Masters and the NBA Finals combined. Huge.

Yes. There are several reasons for this decline, but everyone is experiencing a major dip. The big FORE sports especially — baseball, basketball, football and soccer. Yes. We desperately need to find ways to get more kids involved. I’m on it. #cheers

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