“Don’t Retire, Kid”

October 1, 2019  • Institute Staff

This summer, the Institute’s Sports & Society Program launched a public-awareness campaign through its Project Play initiative called “Don’t Retire, Kid.” The campaign includes a new public-service announcement and is a wake-up call to the fact that fewer kids are playing team sports compared with a decade ago. In August, the “Don’t Retire, Kid” PSA debuted on ESPN to strong positive feedback. The campaign—which receives support from members of Project Play 2020, a group of sports, media, and industry leaders committed to raising national sports participation rates—featured athletes like Kobe Bryant, Sue Bird, Sloane Stephens, Mookie Betts, Albert Pujols, Wayne Gretzky, and Clayton Kershaw. The average child spends less than three years playing a sport and usually quits by age 11, most often because the sport just isn’t fun anymore, according to a new Institute survey. Kids as young as first-graders are feeling stressed, and parents are under pressure to cover rising costs: the average family spends $693 annually per child in one sport. Last year, only 38 percent of kids ages 6 to 12 regularly played team sports, down from 45 percent in 2008. As the “Don’t Retire, Kid” PSA puts it: “If 62 percent of kids have given up on sports, what are we doing wrong?” Check out the #DontRetireKid hashtag on social media. Parents can also find resources to navigate the world of youth sports—and keep more kids in the game—at