By Ben L.
In the midst of the sports and leisure community lies an increasing and prevalent problem that has impacted the foundation of the future of sports. Participation and motivation has decreased exponentially. Between the increasing cost, early specialization, and unqualified/unmotivated coaching, there are alarming numbers being raised by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, Aspen Institute, and from the Department of Sports and Leisure at the University of Illinois.
In a participation study conducted within the US it shows that in 2008 almost 45% of children ages 6-12 played a team sport on a regular basis. Since then, those numbers have dropped to 37%. Tom Ferry explains, “Experts blame that trend on what they call an ‘up or out’ mentality in youth sports. Travel leagues, ones that can sometimes cost thousands of dollars to join, have crept into increasingly younger age groups, and they take the most talented young athletes for their teams. The children left behind either grow unsatisfied on regular recreational teams or get the message that the sport isn’t for them.”
Leadership is about influence, not authority. Leadership is about the impact, direction, and inspiration. Youth, at a base, are the mirror images of the world around them. Personally speaking, there is a strong belief in the guidance of nature vs. nurture. Take these words in spades as these root words dictate the belief that follows; you only get what you put into it.
Time and time again we are given the theatrics of sport through films, media, art, and even music. This constant theme represents one thing – sport is just entertainment to our adult population. The population’s average age in levels older than bantam are slowly increasing. Adults were nurtured in a society that places sport and leisure as closely related, whereas today’s youth culture has developed a stigmatized view on them respectively.
Efforts to improve youth sports involve the respect and maintenance of educated parents, coaches, and administrators, with the hope that education may change the outcome. Changes must be made to the structure and foundation before work towards our goal can be done. Humans, by nature, reject change as a means of comfort. I truly believe for us to achieve change, we must develop how sports and leisure are structured, and that may eliminate what we perceive as the underlying problem.
Chalip., L. et al. (2017). Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics 2017 Vol.20 No.1 pp.30-46 ref.46. Web. https://www-cabdirect
Bogage, J. (2017). Youth sports study: Declining participation, rising costs and
unqualified coaches. The Washington Post.