By Ken Reed

A recent Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) study found that youth sports participation rates continue to drop. Five-year trends for all the sports measured in the study showed declines.

For example, over the five-year period from 2008-12, soccer participation dropped by 7.1 percent, baseball participation dropped by 7.2 percent and basketball participation declined by 8.3 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, given all the publicity and parental concern over concussions and brain trauma, football showed the smallest decline, 5.4 percent, over the same span. That could be due to more kids playing flag football, not necessarily tackle football. Pop Warner, the nation’s largest youth football organization, saw participation drop 9.5% between 2010-12.

The steady drop in youth sports participation rates is deeply concerning from a health standpoint.

“Physical inactivity is a pandemic with terrible consequences for American children,” said SFIA president Tom Cove.

“Research shows that a child who is not active before age 10 is much more likely to remain inactive throughout his or her life. It is important to note that this is not exclusive to any one sport.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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