Youth sports provide countless benefits to children, who grow physically, mentally, socially and even spiritually through their involvement in team and individual activities. At the heart of a positive youth sports experience is play. At Play Like a Champion, we believe that all children have the right to play in a safe and fun environment!
Yet alarming trends have robbed many children of the ability to participate in youth sports while taking the fun out of practices and games for those who do. Consider the following:
According to data from the SFIA and Aspen Institute, participation in youth sports is down nearly 8% over the past decade.
Nearly 70% of children drop-out of sports by the age of 13.
The trend toward specialization has meant fewer children are participating in multiple sports, which has proven to increase burnout and injury, which can negatively impact a child's development.
The cost to participate in youth sports is increasing, creating barriers to entry for middle and low income families. The same report above noted a strong correlation between household income and participation, children from families earning less than $25,000 per year participating in sports at half the rate of those earning $100,000 or more.
Excessive pressure to perform and an emphasis on winning take play out of the equation and make the result all that matters. This mentality damages both the development and enjoyment of those participating; industry leaders suggest children are becoming less creative athletes (key for long-term success) while leaving sports early to explore other activities.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Together, let's start a movement to advocate PLAY in our communities.
Play Like a Champion is asking our national network of partners to join us as #wechampionPLAY. Beginning this fall, we encourage everyone to join us by sharing how children play in your community. Show the world what play looks like by sharing your pictures, stories and best practices. Challenge your league or team to do one or more of the following:
Show us how you play! Post pictures to social media using #wechampionPLAY to show the world what play looks like. Let everyone see that youth sports is FUN!
Encourage every team to add at least one child this season who has not played in the past.
Create a scholarship for your league or team that allows a child to participate who otherwise could not afford it.
Share Best Practices. Tell us how you have successfully grown participation so we can tell others. Perhaps your success can help another program grow!
Maximize playing time! For at least one game, make sure everyone plays the same amount. Consider working with the other coach so that both teams start their bench players.
Share your own ideas in the box at the bottom of the page or via your favorite social media platform using the links below.