There are conflicting reports on the number of youth playing sports and whether it is increasing or decreasing. I want to focus for a moment on the "decreasing":
The opportunities for youth to play sports in low-income communities is decreasing.
The number of youth playing sports in low-income communities is decreasing.
And, the role sports play in addressing critical life-skills development for all youth, regardless of socioeconomic background, is decreasing.
For kids in many public schools, sports are going the route of arts and music programs: they are disappearing. And for girls who benefitted from Title 9 legislation forty years ago that protected them from discrimination in sports, their programs are being sacrificed even faster---especially when the school chooses to prioritize saving the boy's basketball team or boy's football team.
This is why we are building a national movement to preserve youth sports in America. We are rallying youth sports providers nationwide to join Up2Us to prevent sports from being accessible only to the most athletically-inclined or the most economically well off. Through Up2Us, these providers are finding new ways to share resources, strengthen programs, support coach-mentors, conduct evaluation, tackle issues like field space, and perhaps, most importantly, attract new sources of donations to keep kids from being sidelined for life. Individuals and other donors can help this movement as well: by donating cash, product, equipment, and time at www.up2us.org.
The Up2Us model of unifying the field of sports-based youth development to fight for its preservation is critical. Let's use it to ensure access to sports for generations to come. And yes, let's create a model that one day can be used to spurn future movements, like one that revives those arts and music programs as well.
Paul Caccamo Executive Director