Meet the Struggling Middle Class Athlete
Let me introduce Joey, a fictitious named young athlete, is a good student has a good family, good friends and overall just a good kid who is being raised in America’s middle class.
Joey loves most sports but fell in love with riding dirt bikes and participating in motocross but is struggling with financing his love. Participation in sports is a great way for all children to stay healthy. But it is a lot more than that. I believe that kids who have the opportunity to participate in sports do better in school, will want to stay in school which leads to better social skills such as decision making, better communicating, managing their time and team work. You don’t have to believe me. Research from many sources has shown that the skills, habits, friend connections and life experience that our children and in my case grandkids gain from participation have helped them gain important self-esteem and life resilience which most likely reduces the likelihood that they’ll engage in risky and dangerous behavior such a using drugs, missing school or simply getting into trouble. Extracurricular activities like dance classes, team sports, motocross, scouting programs and others have been proven to help shape their future and isn’t that we all want?
Unfortunately, motocross, cheerleading, dance and even other sports have become a luxury many kids just don’t have access to. Nearly 1 in 5 lower to middle income parents have said that the costs have simply forced them to cut back or even eliminate extracurricular activity for their children. They cannot afford it!
We all know for a fact that the families with higher incomes can financially support their kid’s sports and other activities. I have participated and coached sports my entire life and I can tell you that sports for the youth in our great country are being controlled by income. More middle and lower income kids are quitting and not participating while compared to wealthier families which participation is rising. I guess we can say that there is becoming what has been called an “activity gap” that is contributing to a disadvantage with kids. We have to find a way to help all kids.
If you are reading this you already know the costs are skyrocketing. I’ve read that the typical family with kids who play any kind of sport spends around $700 a year on sign-up and playing fees, the equipment, traveling expenses and much more but we all know that some families who are playing accelerated sports and even sports like cheerleading can spend up and over 25-30 thousand dollars per year. Heaven-forbid if you are blessed with more than one kid that wants to play sports.
Did you know that kids from better off families are being able to participate more than ever? Studies are showing that about 7 out of 10 kids from families that earn more than $100,000 are playing more sports. Now compare that with 3 out 10 kids from families earning less from middle to lower income.
Yeah, we all know that youth sports have been changed. I’m old but growing up I played as many sports as I could. Now the parents are pushing their kids into just one sport hoping that they can get an athletic scholarship. Pressure, pressure and more pressure on parents and the kids but the families are opening their wallets, checkbooks and using their credit cards and going deeper and deeper in debt for private lessons, sports camps, expensive accelerated club teams that travel for sporting events and tournaments and anything they can do that will give the kids an advantage. I know that we all are simply spending the money to help in their athletic abilities and that we love them. But then again some parents like Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and numerous others have spent millions bribing colleges to get their kids into schools. Okay, that’s over the top!
Can we solve the problem? I believe that anyone in sports from administrators, coaches, leagues, camps need to find ways to get kids who want to play, who are able to play, regardless of income get the opportunity to participate.
The reason I’m writing this is not to socialize the opportunities for our youth in order to participate but as a cry out for businesses, corporations and others to support the youth of this country. Fired CEO’s are given hundreds of millions of dollars and enormous bonuses but many won’t donate to little league and other youth sports groups because “It’s not in our budget” or “We have already allocated our funds for the year already”; really? Yes, I do want to give a big shout out to all those great and I mean great companies that sponsor youth activity. Without your help there would even be a bigger problem.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Franklin D. Roosevelt