Is the Number of Children participating in sports decreasing?

Is the Number of Children participating in sports decreasing?

HHS has identified several barriers that prevent kids from playing sports, including lack of access to facilities or programs, cost, social pressure, time constraints, and lack of interest or knowledge. These barriers can be especially challenging for students in rural areas and lower-income families who may struggle to afford fees, equipment, and other costs associated with sports participation. In 2022, only 33.3% of kids living in poverty played sports, compared to 41.3% of kids whose family incomes were between one and two times the federal poverty level.

The COVID-19 pandemic added another layer of challenge for kids looking to participate in sports, as many leagues were forced to pause or shut down. In response, HHS developed virtual programming to support youth sports organizations in the summer of 2020. These efforts aimed to provide alternative options for kids to stay active and engaged in sports despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic.

Interestingly, data shows a shift in sports participation rates among different age groups. While in 2019, 56.7% of kids aged 12-17 were involved in sports, by 2022 this percentage dropped to 52.1%. On the other hand, younger kids aged 6-11 saw an increase in sports participation rates, rising from 53.5% in 2019 to 55.7% in 2022. This trend aligns with findings from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which observed a decline in high schoolers playing on sports teams from 57.4% in 2019 to 49.1% in 2021, marking a significant decrease in sports participation among this age group.

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