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Funding for youth sport: Learning from the past and aligning resources for the future

March 27, 2014  • Institute Contributor

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The importance of physical activity for children in the U.S. cannot be overstated, particularly considering the substantial increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity over the past few decades1. For many youth, activity often comes in the form of unstructured free play or organized school and community sports. City and non-profit sports leagues are often underfunded and understaffed, which often shifts the financial responsibility onto parents. Alternative options such as private sport clubs or travel teams exist, but are often more expensive than entry-level recreation leagues, and also often require resources that are too costly for middle-to-lower income parents. The overall financial burden on the average American family keeps many children from participating in organized sports. Addressing sport in the U.S. from an organizational and financial perspective offers a potential avenue to improving long-term health outcomes for the next generation.