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New Study Shows First Drop In Youth Sports Participation In 30 Years

Posted at 9:00 AM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 10:00:50-05

The summer games in Tokyo start this July.

And while the focus right now is on who will compete for Team USA, there is growing concern about whether there will be enough athletes for the 2028 Olympic Games.

The reason why is that more and more young athletes are calling it quits.

Teamwork: it's one of the first lessons for young athletes.

"You accomplish more together than by yourself," Gene Gentrup says.

Sports Program Director Gene Gentrup says that's just one of the life skills kids can thank sports for.

"They'll do better in school, they'll be more likely to go to college," Gentrup says.

But right now Gentrup says youth sports is in a crisis, "Something's gotta change."

A recent study by the Aspen Institute says the average kid today spends less than 3 years playing a sport and quits by age 11.

Gentrup believes things have gotten too competitive, too early, taking the fun away. The one thing kids usually care about the most.

Gentrup says, "You just get to have fun honestly...make friends and tackle."

Gentrup says overbearing parents are to blame too.

"There needs to be from parents more high-fives, more hey good job I'm really proud of you. Make them feel good, make them want to come back for the next game."

On top of that, research shows more and more low-income families can't afford to keep up with the rising pay to play fees.

The declining number of athletes is so significant it's starting to worry the US Olympic Committee.

Right now, the athletes that would be going to the 2028 games are between 8 and 14 years old.

The committee says it's crucial to get participation back up to have enough elite athletes to choose from.

It's currently reaching out to the national governing bodies of sports organizations across the country.

Saying they need to stop professionalizing athletes too young.

Gentrup says the way to do that is to take the pressure off and let kids be kids.

"They don't care if its the National AA Tournament or if it's in the backyard, they just want to play."

Gentrup also says if parents are worried about keeping their kids in sports, the best thing they can do is make sure they're having fun

For parents who want their kids to participate in sports, it can take some convincing but before signing your kids up, you need to ask a few questions.

So coming up tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. 2 Works For You has the five things parents need to know, to get your kids ready for organized sports.

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