Kids are playing fewer sports in the US these days. A survey has shown that little over 36 percent of 6-to-12-year-old kids are participating in youth sports in contrast to 44.5 percent from 2008. The most significant loss is experienced by the big four national team sports: basketball, football, baseball, and soccer.
The decline is mostly due to social factors. On the one hand, kids from low-income families are the ones hardest hit, because of the increasing costs associated with youth sports. High facility and coaching fees, expensive equipment, and the higher cost of travel are all factors that make these youth sports less inclusive.
On the other hand, it’s also down to the influence of these sports. According to another survey, fathers remain the most significant sports role model that makes children turn to sports. And if parents haven’t played or watched the sport, it’s highly unlikely their kids will want to join a program.
However, the overall decline hasn’t affected some sports, and there are some clear winners in recent years. The three most notable youth sports which are rising are ice hockey, lacrosse, and gymnastics. Let’s take a look at what made them boom in the last couple of years.
Ice Hockey has seen an increase of 64 percent in youth participation in recent years. While it remains a contact sport with a high rate of injuries, ice hockey is becoming less violent as fights are fewer. It has motivated many parents to sign up their kids to participate in the sport.
Besides the usual bastions of the sport in the North of the US and Canada, the NHL is planning to relocate teams into other parts of the US. The prospect of having a team in your home city has driven franchises to promote the sport to kids (and their parents) to increase the fan base in those cities.
Participation in gymnastics at youth level has risen 15% in recent years. The sport remains most popular among girls, especially after the immense success of the US gymnastics team at the 2016 Summer Olympics. In particular, high coverage of Simone Biles’ efforts and her one bronze and three gold medals has motivated kids across America to take part.
Another contribution to its popularity is the winning bid by Los Angeles to host the 2028 Olympic Games. As the host nation, the US Olympic Committee has to produce quality participants in all sports, including gymnastics. And with ten years to go, it’s the perfect time to start training.
The oldest active sport on the North American continent is up 158 percent. Currently, it’s the fastest growing sport in the United States. Because lacrosse is the least violent contact sport, parents choose it for their children instead of football.
Moreover, the sport is being televised more at the college and professional level. It has increased the reach of lacrosse, and children who didn’t have the opportunity to come into contact with the sport are now drawn to participate. The fast pace of the game, the unusual style of play and inclusiveness of both genders makes it attractive to watch, and kids want to be part of that game.
Playing Any Sport Is Important
Despite the popularity of these sports, parents should motivate their kids as much as possible to take part in games. With the help of a professional league network that supports sport in communities, kids are more likely to take up a sport they like, so that they can enjoy a happier and healthier childhood.