Just like the big guys, kids play competitive football. They start in pee-wee leagues and go all the way through high school and college. They have winners and looser, divisions and playoff games leading up to the final game of the year, but why are more children turning their backs on organized sports, like football?
Seventy percent of children in the US leave the arena by the time they are 13 years old. Naturally, sports aren’t for everyone, but 70% is a big number that begs the question; why? When party bus Hamilton pulls into the parking lot of Super Bowl 51 this coming Sunday, I would be curious how many kids are even interested spectators.What happens that makes children decide against organized sports as they enter their teens?
Where’s the fun?
As kids get older their coaches take the game to new levels. It becomes more about beating their opponents and winning rather than having fun. Fun must be a part of most activities if children are going to continue to participate willingly. With the new responsibilities that are given to a child as they enter Middle School and their early teens, they find their priorities shifting. Life starts to get a bit more serious, and unless the dedication to compete on the playing field is deeply rooted, it will be dropped from the curriculum faster than stinky gym shoes.
When a kid doesn’t have the talent that he or she needs to make first string, first chair, first line-up then they begin to question themselves. Is it worth the time and effort to come in second, or always be considered the backup player? Are they playing for the love of the sport, or to please an adult? Do they want to devote the time and then be relegated to the shadows?
Young adults are guided and even pushed to find their passion. While they are still figuring it out, oftentimes adults unwittingly place pressure and undue stress on their choices. Parents with the best intentions push their kids to specialize in whatever it is they are good at. It doesn’t have to be sports but could be an area of academics or music or the arts. With specialization in sports, however, the play gets more intense.
It’s not unusual for the average young athlete to fall short of the finish line – so to speak. As adolescents, they are not sure who they are or where they fit in, so to artificially become someone for someone else’s’ sake leaves them feeling as if they have failed. The hole created by the feeling of ‘not being good enough’ can be filled with bad choices, but statistics show that 70% of the time it turns out it is filled with the choice to drop out of a school’s sports program.
It takes money.
Another strong point with kids becoming contenders is the cost. Families don’t always have the additional income to support buying expensive equipment, year-round training, and specialized coaching camps. Throw in the tournaments and expense of traveling to different competitions and continuing in sports through High School is a big financial investment. Kids in lower-income or single family homes may not have the advantage of playing on a sports team.
What do you think contributes to children dropping sports around the age of 13? What other insights can you offer? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with other readers.Tags: adolescents, contact sports, pee wee football, Super Bowl 51, tournaments