The Department of Health & Human Services has recognized a critical issue with youth sports participation. Our country faces an inactivity crisis, leading to skyrocketing healthcare costs and a population where 60% of Americans are suffering from chronic disease. It is crucial that we, as a country, stress the importance of participating in active healthy lives, starting at a young age. Kids who do not participate in sports at a young age are less likely to participate later on in life, and the foundation for a healthy lifestyle starts when you are young.
Focusing on this issue, the Department of Health & Human Services has requested public comments regarding the concern of declining participation in America, and SFIA eagerly contributed. The Department is seeking partners to help implement programs to increase youth sports participation across the country, and SFIA is helping to address the severe problem through research depicting participation trends and influences and public policy solutions.
First, SFIA address the barriers for kids to participate in youth sports. According to SFIA data, cost is increasingly becoming a factor for people to participate in sports. The higher the income is for a household, the more likely those individuals are to participate in sports. As household income declines, so do activity levels. Therefore, with the growing pay-to-play trend for youth sports, many families cannot afford for their child to participate.
In addition, sport specialization is also causing problems among youth participation. As young athletes begin to intensify their athletic endeavors at earlier ages, we are seeing more "burn out" as they tire from the pressure and intensity and drop out of the sport altogether.
On the public policy side, SFIA identifies the PHIT Act to help families lower the cost barrier to youth sports participation. Under this piece of legislation, families will be able to use pre-tax dollars to pay for team sports registration fees, training camps and clinics, equipment, cleats and much more.
All in all, sports for kids are becoming too expensive, and it is of utmost importance that we make them fun and easily-accessible, once again. Not only will this change lead to more active individuals, but it will also help kids to get on the right path to leading an active, healthy lifestyle throughout the rest of their lives.
To read the full SFIA comments, please click here.
To learn more about the PHIT Act, please visit www.passphit.org.