By Ken Reed

I often say there’s “too much adult in youth sports.” When adults are heavily involved in youth sports, ego-and-greed based decisions and activities are sure to be part of the environment.

Win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) mentalities and policies are increasingly part of the youth sports landscape, as youth sports entrepreneurs (aka youth sports vultures) are lurking and preying on the dreams of young athletes and their parents. We are seeing more “showcase” tournaments, more travel teams, more year-round club teams, more sport-specific trainers, etc. These trends are pricing out kids in lower socio-economic areas and it’s placing unnecessary — and potentially damaging — physical and mental pressure on young people.

Youth sports vultures are commercializing and professionalizing youth sports for kids as young as eight years old. Is there any wonder that nearly 80% of kids drop out of organized team sports by the age of 13?

I recently came across a letter written by Josh Rovner in the Washington Post that nailed the contemporary youth sports experience. Here’s an excerpt:

“By design, this industry doesn’t serve kids. … Privatizing amateur athletics is wrong — and not only because of the astonishing expenses for its customers. In tournament play, profit and victory are core values. Instead of sprawling venues, we should invest in a sports culture where everyone can play.”

Rovner does a nice job of pulling back the curtain on the youth sports industry.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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