By Jim Baugh, former President of Wilson, Sports Industry Hall of Fame Inductee
I read with great interest the recent issue of SGB (Sports Business Journal) about the trends of kids playing sports. “Core participation declined 5% for kids 6-12 years old”. The gap between core participants (36% of kids) and kids who play 1+ times a year (63% of kids) is widening.
Am I surprised? Hell no. I have seen what has happened with elementary school children firsthand. The average budget for PE in an elementary school is $1 per child per year. Schools have cut out funding for PE which is where all kids used to learn basic sport skills.
How many of you have been to an elementary school and seen today’s kids try to play any sport? It is sad. They don’t have the hand-eye coordination or basics skills to play and, more important, have FUN playing. The deterioration of these skills is frightening.
I have studied participation trends for over 30 years back to the life of PE4Life, the PEP Program and now running PHIT America. I have seen most everyone in the sports industry focused on serious participants. I get it. That is where the $’s are. Yes, you can blame COVID but you must look at the ‘roots’ of physical activity skill development, school physical education programs, to help all kids learn sport skills.
PHIT America has the BEST solution. We have 4 life-time sport school programs that teach basic skills to have FUN learning to play sports. We even have Billie Jean King’s Sweet Spot training system in all our programs. Teaching hand-eye coordination is the missing first step to learning any ball sport. And, we can get kids active and learning for only $5 per child. Compare that impact versus other programs for charity. We know what we are doing and we do it better than anyone!
Here is the sad part. Only a small handful of sports companies support our charity. Most only invest in quick ROI investments but until you stop the ‘leaky bucket’ of what is happening in elementary schools, you will always face an uphill battle…and probably a losing one as well.
One final point, I don’t know why we talk about kids or people playing one time a year (or more) as participants. If someone doesn’t play 6 times a year we should not be proud to promote them as participants. Yes, the big numbers sound good but you are only fooling yourself and sponsors of sports.
Let’s talk if you want to help. Contact me at Jim@PHITAmerica.org