Youth sports like baseball and softball have changed. Budget cuts to school and community programs have reduced the number of affordable options, and a commercialized youth sports enterprise has emerged to fill the gap. For talented student-athletes, the most prominent path to continuing to play in college is through expensive travel teams, tournaments, and private coaching.
Percent of six to twelve-year-olds who regularly play a team sport*:
Families struggle and sacrifice to participate in this pay-to-play ecosystem. Others must opt-out altogether. This inequality flies in the face of our national pastime–we have seen a decline in participation in baseball and softball among socio-economically disadvantaged youth. This is discouraging because we know sports participation can be a valuable access point to college for hard-working student-athletes.
Those who participate in sports grow not only in physical skill but in emotional and social ways that provide lifelong advantages, including:
* Sean Gregory, “How Kids’ Sports Became a $15 Billion Industry”, TIME, August 24, 2017.
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