Sports are one of the great unifiers that help bring people of different backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and ethnicities together. But, what happens when athletes from higher income families are the only ones allowed to compete? The Atlantic recently featured a piece titled “What’s Lost When Only Rich Kids Play Sports” that examined the economic factors that have shaped the youth sports industry in recent years.
There are thousands of children that lack athletic opportunities each year due to living below the poverty line. According to recent data from the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society program, household income is the primary factor of kids’ athletic participation. Children who live in a family whose household income is under $25,000 are roughly three times as likely to be inactive in comparison to their peers who live in a family earning over $100,000.
There are plenty of local sport organizations who are seeing participation numbers dropping due to private, exclusive athletic teams that travel out of state and across the country to compete each year. This shift towards private organizations has limited the athletic opportunities for children of lower-income families. Access to athletics should not be a matter of economic status, though the reality is that the $15 billion youth sports industry is finding ways to divide participants into “sport-haves and have-nots”.
Sports provide endless benefits (improved mental and physical fitness, teamwork, sportsmanship, etc) to the participants and being unable to afford to participate prohibits many from those benefits and opportunities. Providing access to sports for youth athletes is pivotal towards their development into their teenage years and adulthood.
Through GymDandy’s unique online athletic marketplace, users are able to view and compare the many athletic spaces in their neighborhood to find the perfect and most affordable place to play. GymDandy wants to give every athlete a chance to participate, but it can’t be done alone. A collaborative effort between youth sport organizations and community members can help form the framework for competitive leagues and an athletic environment for athletes from all economic backgrounds.