Dr. Jordan Blazo, Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Louisiana Tech University, partnered with Aspen Institute to complete its State of Play annual analysis of national trends in the delivery of sports activities for children and adolescents.
The survey took place in September and October 2022 with the mission to understand the key factors in how young people from the ages of 6 to 18 approach sports. Other investigators on the project include TeamSnap and Utah State University.
The findings in the State of Play 2022 analysis are drawn from many sources including real-time insights through surveys of youth sports parents through Louisiana Tech’s Department of Kinesiology. The results shed light on what is promoting or hindering children from participating in sports activities.
“We have partnered with the Aspen Institute since 2019, analyzing data to better understand the current challenges with getting children involved with sporting activities,” Blazo said. “From finances to mental health concerns in children, different key factors play big roles in the future of sports for children and teens between the ages of 6 and 18.”
According to the reports, the factors range from location, fees for private clubs and training, parents and coaches maintaining a fun practice or competition atmosphere, and more. The surveys found that these key factors determine whether a child enjoys sports, participates in active movement, or even plays at all.
“With over 2,000 surveys completed by families across the country, it was interesting to see the widespread effect that COVID-19, inflation, and mental health have had on sports activities for kids,” Blazo said. “The attitude towards sports programming is shifting to being more about the children and less about the competition.”
Research found that community-based sports programming, like Girls and Boys Club or little league teams, is returning. While sports like football and baseball are still popular, non-contact sports like tennis and pickleball are rising in popularity. The study also found that the average family paid $883 annually in one child’s primary sport, down 6% from pre-pandemic.
The research will be presented in May 2023 at the Project Play Summit, an event to educate professors, athletes, activists, and policy makers on the ever-changing landscape of children and adolescents in sports.
To read the annual State of Play Report, visit aspenprojectplay.org.