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With the cost of playing sports on the rise, many children from low-income families have limited access to organized leagues. Equipment, transportation and private coaching costs have made competing in many sports extremely expensive. The simple days of kids playing on vacant fields has become largely replaced by highly organized leagues that utilize facilities and areas often restricted for general use. As a master’s student in sport management and an advocate for the sharing economy, I’m making it my goal to approach this problem with new ideas.
Participation in sports during childhood and adolescence is associated with physical, emotional, social and educational benefits that can last into adulthood. Here are the facts from Project Play:
- Regular physical activity helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, helps control weight and reduce fat, and delays or prevents the development of high blood pressure
- Organized sports activity helps children develop and improve cognitive skills
- Sports can positively affect aspects of personal development in young people, such as self-esteem, goal-setting and leadership
- High school athletes are more likely than non-athletes to attend college
Despite these immense benefits, the costs of participating in youth sports are becoming increasingly prohibitive. On average, in the US, parents spend $671 per year on youth sports and at least 1 in 5 spends over $1,000 per child annually. One dad kept track of every sports related expense for his three children and his results were astounding. In 2011, he spent a whopping $11,740! That is more than half of some household’s annual incomes!