Here are a few interesting facts about youth sports from a survey put together by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, the Athletic Footwear Association, an USA Today Survey, and Michigan State in 2013.
1. Roughly 35 million children play youth sports each season.
35 million children are signed up to play youth sports (football, soccer, baseball, hockey, etc.) each season, but yet a staggering 70% of kids quit playing sports by age 13. Why are so many kids burning out so fast on youth sports? Some hypothesize that it’s the parents that are ruining it for the kids, putting too much pressure on youth athletes to perform. Others suspect it’s the coaches who strive to win at all costs, leaving kids to twiddle their thumbs on the bench all season long. And others believe that specialization at an early age is leading to burnout, instead of a life-long love of sports. No matter why a child quits playing youth sports, and sometimes they just don’t want to play, it’s important that we as sports parents, administrators, and coaches look at the way we run our leagues and see if we can keep more of those 35 million kids playing sports well past 13.
2. 85% of coaches are parents (usually Dads) coaching their own kids.
Sports parents, please remember that most of the time your child’s coach is not a former professional athlete, or even college level player. Hopefully they know the fundamentals of the sport, but they might not have any experience being a sports coach. Have a little patience this season! New coaches have to learn what it means to be responsible for 12 8-year-olds, how to run a practice, how to ensure players get equal playing time, and more. Even with a season or two under their belt they are still learning how to run a team efficiently. They are only human and humans are prone to mistakes. If you have any issues with your child’s coach don’t get into it with them during practice or a game; talk to them afterwards and in private. Don’t coach from the sidelines as that undermines the coach’s authority. And if you think you can do a better job than by all means volunteer to coach next season!
3. Only 1 in 6,000 high school football players will make it to the NFL.
Most youth athletes, no matter how talented they may be, aren’t going to “go pro.” While many children may dream of being a professional athlete, and your child might be the exception to the rule, most of our kids aren’t going to make it to that level. It’s important that sports parents remember most kids choose to play youth sports because it’s fun and they get to hang out with their friends—they aren’t dreaming of college scholarships. Please remember that too much pressure to early on can actually turn kids away from sports. We want them to learn to love being active, even if they aren’t ever going to “go pro.”