Dear America: Fund Youth Sports

Children have a right to play, and its our job to make sure they keep it


Youth sports are taking large sums out of parent pockets, and its time we do something about it.

Evan Hughes, Staff Writer

There are far too many people in this world who don’t appreciate sports. They’re vital to the development of many children, both physically and socially. I grew up without developing many of the social skills I needed, but thanks to basketball, I was able to find who I was, and make friends who accepted that from me.

This is something many children around the world suffer from, but because of inadequate funding, it’s also something they may never overcome. I believe sports are one of the most important parts of our global culture; they transcend language, religion, borders, ethnicity, and culture.

If we do what we can as Americans, then there should be nothing standing between children and an opportunity to play a sport. I believe an opportunity is all many people need. For some, a chance like this will alter the course of their lives. I know it did for me. For some it may do nothing, but I think that chance is utterly vital.

Project play is a program by Aspen Institute that believes all children have the right to play. (

According to Project Play, a program by the Aspen Institute, about 75% of students between six and seventeen play some form of team and individual sports, and of that portion, almost 60% of families say that that their child’s sport causes financial strain.

From these numbers, I believe two things can be deduced. First and foremost, kids want to play sports. The study included two age groups, six through twelve, and thirteen through seventeen, and and the drop off from the younger group to the older one is less than three percent (76.1% down to 73.4%).

Second, youth sports aren’t properly funded. I wholeheartedly believe if there was better funding to allow for more affordable youth sports, that the 75% would look more like 80-85%, and that we would see a smaller drop off between the younger and older groups.

I played town basketball from fourth grade to eighth grade, and from sixth to eighth, I also played AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball year-round. This lead to an immense amount of money being spent annually for something I didn’t even continue into high school.

I was blessed with a fortunate enough financial situation to participate in spite of the cost. However, many kids, both in America and worldwide, are not as fortunate. They’ll only be given the chance to play town sports, if they’re even offered that much.

In order to really succeed in a sport beyond middle school, you need to join a year-round team. Many of the players you’ll be competing against will be on one, putting you at a major disadvantage. There shouldn’t be a pay wall to succeed in sports as a 13 year-old.

Parents are being forced to fork over huge sums of money just to keep their child involved. (

According to the same study (Project Play), 48% of parents (81% of the 59% who said youth sports were a financial burden) said they would find a way to make it work for their kids; the other 11% (19% of that same 59%), however, said they plan to take on debt in order to offer their children this opportunity.

It is completely unreasonable to require a family to take on debt in order for their kid to play a sport. As I said prior, sports are vital to the physical and social development of a child, and that necessity doesn’t stop after they enter middle school.

Parents spend an average of almost $900 a season (costs include, but are not limited to, equipment, travel, and attire), with nearly 20% spending over $1,000. This statistic strictly pertains to one season as well. If we take those costs and impose them over a full calendar year, assuming an indoor variation is offered for outdoor sports, families could be asked to spend upwards of $4,000 on just sports. That’s over $300 a month!

These costs are only rising as well thanks to inflation, as well as the various issues caused by COVID-19 that have affected everything.

For a family that already has to worry about car payments, house payment/rent, groceries, and all the other expenses that come along with having a family, it is unreasonable to expect this type of financial commitment. That, however, is exactly what youth sports does.

We need to do everything we can to provide opportunities to the children of our nation. (

As far as fixing the issue, there’s only so much you can do. Club sports aren’t operating off government funding, so their prices can’t really be regulated. I obviously appreciate all of the parents who have volunteered their time to coach me over the years, but in order to improve you really do need a real coach. Some people are lucky to have real coaches who know what they’re doing; however, many are also not as lucky.

The cost of youth sports is a complex, multi-faceted issue that requires more than just one article from a high school newspaper to fix. That, however, shouldn’t be enough to discourage us. We, as individuals, can show how much we care by volunteering our time, writing our congressmen and representatives, and supporting the youth sporting events near you.

I get it–issues like this may seem overwhelming, and they may seem like they need to be put on the back burner when there are more pressing issues at hand, but if that mentality never ceases, then we will never get around to fixing this issue plaguing millions of American children.