GOOD

New Study Shows Youth Sports Are In Big Trouble

Here are three ways you can help.

Photo by Keith Johnston/Pixabay.

Are we helping kids stay active? The answer is a resounding no, according to a newly released study from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association and the Aspen Institute. While almost 45% of kids ages 6 to 12 played a team sport regularly in 2008, according to Aspen data, that number has been on a steady decline and has now dropped to about 37% as of last year. Experts point to a number of reasons for this dip in participation, citing everything from a lack of trained coaches to the rising costs of equipment.


But just as with every fall off the balance beam or skinned knee, wherever there’s a problem, there is also a solution. Here are three ways to help boost youth participation in sports right now.

Photo by Skeeze/Pixabay.

Become a Mentor or Coach

Data shows that today’s youth have largely stepped away from the “big four” major sports — baseball, basketball, football, and soccer — in favor of activities like gymnastics, golf, ice hockey, and track and field.

So think outside the proverbial field. Becoming a youth coach or mentor isn’t restricted to teaching the proper batting stance. Your involvement can range from volunteering at fundraisers to full-on training, if you’re qualified. People from diverse backgrounds, women, and minorities are especially in need; the SFIA and Aspen report shows that 70% of youth coaches are male with household incomes over $100,000.

The National Alliance for Youth Sports is a great place to get started. The nonprofit organization provides programs and training in coaching the sports that are growing most, as well as a variety of resources for volunteer coaches, administrators, officials, and parents of young athletes to ensure safety. Your local Boys & Girls Club or YMCA is also likely to have an ongoing need for help — and a number of opportunities for rewarding experiences.

Photo by Kelsey Vere/Pixabay.

Donate Used Sports Equipment or Help Fund Sports Teams in Need

Billions of dollars in funding have been cut from youth sports programs in recent years, leaving millions of students without a shot to get in the game. SIFA’s study found that “ children from lower income brackets are far more likely to be physically inactive than kids from wealthier households.” The gap in participation for the nation's most vulnerable kids has increased, as costs for travel leagues and equipment leaves them unable to play despite their talent and interest in doing so.

“Sports in America have separated into sport-haves and have-nots,” Tom Farrey, executive director of Aspen’s Sports & Society program, told the Washington Post. “If you don’t have money, it’s hard to play.”

DonorsChoose.org accepts donations to public and public charter school sports teams in communities across the country to help bridge the gap. Sports Gift is a nonprofit that works with local partner organizations in the U.S. and internationally to bring sports equipment to children in underserved areas.

Photo by skeeze/Pixabay.

Parents: Walk the Talk

It's easy to talk about ways to get our youth to be more active, but what example are we setting for them in our own lives? An athletic mentality starts at home and can be as simple as a daily bike ride or a nightly family walk or hike.

Technology can make it a challenge to get out and play. Recent research from a 2015 Pew Research Center study shows that 72% of all American teens play video games on a computer, game console, or portable device, such as a cell phone, and 81% of teens have or have access to a game console. The Aspen Institute found that percentage of children 6-12 who played a high-calorie-burning sport such as soccer or dance 151 times during the year dropped from 28.7% to 24.8% since 2011.

But take a look to the past to solve the future. While many kids are active in their childhoods, they often drift away when the competition gets too tough or other interests, jobs, or academics take over in junior high or high school. This is still a crucial time to encourage the numerous benefits associated with group or individual sports — even if it’s through a completely new hobby or activity.

So, dust off those tennis racquets, invest in a good pair of walking shoes, and see where the road (or court or gym or rink) takes you.

Sports
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet