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We all remember playing youth sports. Whether it was baseball, soccer or little league football, it was a part of our childhood. It meant something to us.
Well, this is a different generation, and the desire to play youth sports has faltered in recent years. Apparently, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the mass exodus from children wanting to participate on a sports team.
But it isn’t as it would seem. COVID-19 is not really the problem.
The problem is a significant portion of the children who had their primary sport sidelined due to the pandemic don’t have any interest in returning. Even with things starting to get back to normal, most kids would rather do something else.
Parents still want their children to play. They’re more willing now than ever to throw money at these sports. But our youth is choosing a different path — or at least some of them are.
The Aspen Institute’s Project Play recently held a survey, and the results were scary.
The number of parents saying their kids aren’t interested in sports is up 10 percent from a few months ago. That number was originally at 19 percent in June, but it has climbed to almost a third (29%) — or three out of 10. The global pandemic has contributed to the decline in numbers, but it’s going beyond that.
“That’s a frightening number for the viability of the youth sports system,” said Dr. Travis Dorsch, the founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University.
The number of hours spent on participation in sports is also on the decline. It has essentially been cut in half, going from 13.6 hours prior to the pandemic all the way down to 7.2 hours. Everything is down, and it’s alarming.
Some people will still try to attribute the steep decline to COVID-19. But parents aren’t citing fear or danger as a reason their children don’t want to return. They’re citing a lack of interest.
Forcing children to stay home and allowing them to play video games or watch TV throughout the pandemic might have a lasting, permanent affect. When you’re young, you mostly want play and have fun with friends — or that is the way it used to be.
But it’s a new age, and what kids define as “fun” differs from when we were younger.
The world is becoming more reclusive, and the way we communicate, operate and live continues to change drastically. Some of those changes are a good thing, but there is undeniable value in playing sports.
Playing team sports at a young age teaches kids discipline. It teaches patience, teamwork and overcoming obstacles. It keeps kids out of trouble. It’s a staple of our society, and it’s unfortunate to see more and more kids moving away from it.
We live in a different world today.
The entire study is quite fascinating. It’s definitely something worth checking out if you have time.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.