The Disadvantages of Youth Sports | Disabilities |

A 2008 survey by The National Council of Youth Sports found more than 44 million children play youth sports. Youth sport is made up of many different types of sports programs. There are recreational sports, club sports, school sports and agency-sponsored sports like Little League. Though many kids enjoy youth sports and have positive youth sport experiences, youth sports have disadvantages as well.


Injury is one well-documented disadvantage to youth sports participation. According to data gathered by The National Center for Sports Safety, more than 3.5 million children younger than 14 are injured playing sports each year. Sports with the highest injury rates include most of the traditional team sports kids play. Based on the NCSS research, football leads the way, with 28 percent of football players getting injured over the course of one season. Baseball is next at a 25 percent injury rate, soccer at 22 percent, basketball players at 15 percent and softball with 12 percent.

  Sport Specialization

Sport specialization means picking one sport and playing that sport exclusively throughout the year. While at some point children who want to maximize their ability in one sport would drop other sports, this trend happens at earlier and earlier ages. In their book "Foundations of Physical Education, Exercise Science and Sport," Deborah Wuest, physical education professor at Ithaca College and Charles Bucher, who prior to his death was physical education professor at New York University, say that children are being moved to specialize at earlier and earlier ages, with negative effects. They say that children should play many different sports that provide different challenges and develop different motor skills. Early specialization also prevents the children from building skills and interests outside of one sport.

Burnout and Dropout

Another youth sport disadvantage is burnout and dropout. When children play sports from a very young age, there is a greater likelihood they will begin to lose enjoyment in that particular sport. Wuest and Bucher write that children who experience burnout from youth sports will be more likely to drop out of the sport before reaching the peak of their physical abilities. This means they do not benefit from all the time spent playing and practicing their sport while growing up.

Unequal Access

Not all children have equal access to sporting opportunities. Socioeconomic status can prevent children with interest in and ability for certain sports from the opportunity to participate. This is especially true for sports that have a greater focus on competitive clubs than interscholastic agency sponsored sports. Some youth sports examples are soccer, volleyball and swimming. Children whose parents are not able to pay will be prevented from the opportunity to play.

Overemphasis on Winning

Placing too much emphasis on winning comes at the expense of children playing youth sports. A research report from The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports clearly states how the focus on competition hurts children wanting to play sports. They characterize the youth sports in America as designed by adults to mainly be concerned with winning and exclusionary---preventing millions of children from participating or continuing to participate in sports of their choosing.




Via Nicko, Tim O'Keefe