Can you afford youth sports? Expert says booming business means some opportunities out of reach

The youth sports business is booming, but many opportunities remain out of reach for working class families due to the exorbitant costs, according to one expert.

Dr. Travis Dorsch, assistant professor at Utah State University and founding director of the Families in Sport Lab, said the price of everything from travel to coaches' salaries to equipment makes it very hard for many families.

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“I think what we’re seeing is this trickle down professionalization into youth sport. And that’s really pressing a lot of families out,” Dorsch said on Fox & Friends Friday.

He noted that a 2016 Families in Sport Lab study found that parents reported spending between 2 to 10 percent of their family’s gross annual household income on athletic activities, per child.

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“You think about families maybe that have two or three or even four children participating at the same time, and this can get pricey real quick,” Dorsch said.

He added this “professionalization” can contribute to kids quitting organized sports altogether.

Approximately 70 percent of kids stop playing organized sports by the age of 13, according to a 2016 poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

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Dorsch said the phenomenon must be addressed by individual families, but also by communities and society as a whole.

“What are our goals for our kids in youth sport? When we as researchers ask parents and children that question, they give us a lot of answers. Not a lot of those answers have to do with winning, getting trophies, getting scholarships,” Dorsch said. “We need to re-evaluate and maybe just look in the mirror and figure out why we are having our children participate in this context at all?”