Youth sports participation is on the decline — here’s why

There’s a lot to love about youth sports. Research has shown that children who participate receive a host of physical and mental health benefits. Aside from being more physically active, youth sports also help develop communication and leadership skills that become lifelong assets.

Not to mention, an hour or two of peace and quiet while the kids are at practice is a blessing in itself.

So when we see that percentage of 6-12 year olds participating in sports regularly has declined every year for the last six years, we should sound the alarm.


Why is this happening?
To be honest, my gut reaction was to blame Fortnite. And while the number of American kids playing video games has steadily increased, it appears that the real culprit is far more concerning: the cost of participating in youth sports is becoming prohibitively expensive for many American families.

Pay to play
A 2016 survey by Utah State University showed that families spend an average of $2,292 per year on youth sports. With the median household income in the US hovering around $61,000, that means families are spending (on average) nearly 4% of their total pre-tax income on sports.

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Travel-heavy sports like lacrosse and hockey top the list, while the rec-league staples like soccer and basketball tend to be more budget-friendly.

An exclusive club
Believe it or not, youth sports in America is a $17 billion industry. Much of the rising cost of sports can be attributed to the growth of “elite” leagues and the cost to participate in them.

Knowing that these leagues can cost families upwards of $20,000 after travel, equipment, team dues, and training costs, it should come as no surprise that participation amongst children from low-income families have been the most dramatically affected.

How Finli can help

We believe that every child should have the opportunity to participate in sports. With Finli, parents can add upload their children’s sports-related expenses and have friends and family directly contribute to things like team dues, equipment costs, and more.

Let’s look at baseball for example. Baseball bats are ridiculously expensive, ranging from $100-$300 on average. While it’s unlikely that a single family member or friend would be willing to shell out the cash for your kid’s new bat, with Finli, several friends and family members can come together to make that impactful purchase with manageable contributions of say, $20.

Lori Shao