The State of Youth Sports Part Two

Students in the Intro to Sports Administration class (KIN 6410) were asked to write a response on the current state of youth sports in America. Here are a student’s thoughts.


By: Brittany Rajala

A few decades ago when kids played sports, it meant that a group gathered around an empty field and played whatever games they wanted to with the rules they thought were fair, without an adult in sight. There were no coaches instructing them on intricacies of the game and no parents screaming obscenities from the sidelines. With this drastic change in youth sports in the last decade, it’s no surprise that by age thirteen, 70% of children have completely dropped out of sports (O’Sullivan, 2014). The increasing necessity and pressure to be the next superstar athlete has taken away from the fun of the sport. After all, having fun is one of the top reasons that youth participate in sports. So what changed? Why do young children cower away from something that was once so essential to their upbringing?

The question at hand is this: what can be done to restore youth sports to their former glory? The solution is seemingly simple: give more power and control to the youth that need it. Previous research has shown that giving youth more control over their activities not only empowers them, but provides them with the leadership skills and confidence to succeed in sport. This can transfer into other areas of life (Larson, 2005). Without the overemphasis of being the best and winning at all costs from parents, coaches, and other adults, youth athletes are able to focus on the love of the game and having fun. Programs like i9 breed consistent values of fun, excitement, and acceptance by focusing more on the youth participating in sport and the fun of the game than winning or becoming the very best (Anderson, 2013). Initiatives like these are the future of youth sport by returning it to those who need it most- the children.


Anderson, E. (2013). i9 and the transformation of youth sport. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 37(1), 97-111.

Larson, R. (2005). A comparison of youth-driven and adult-driven youth programs: Balancing inputs from youth and adults. Journal of Community Psychology, 33(1), 57-74.

O’Sullivan, J. (2014, April). Changing the game in youth sports. TEDxBend. Video retrieved from;search%3Atag%3A%22tedxbend%22

*The above post does not represent the opinion or stance of the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Studies nor does it represent the opinion of Wayne State University*


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