The Wall Street Journal writes about Why Children Are Abandoning Baseball.
After reading the article I don’t feel like I have a good sense for why they aren’t playing baseball, or several of the other sports included in the graph that also show declines: softball, basketball and soccer.
Tackle football is the only sport that shows an increase, but it’s marginal. Its increase doesn’t account for the massive decreases in other sports.
I thought that since participation in almost all sports is down, maybe the total youth population was down, something the article should have addressed.
A search on the US Census Bureau shows that there were about 61 million youth in the early 00’s and about the same amount as recently as 2012, debunking my theory.
The article offers some other explanations. Sports like lacrosse is on the rise, though according to this US Lacrosse Participation Survey, 750,000 participated in that sport in 2013, which doesn’t offset the 8-9 million decline in baseball, softball, basketball and soccer.
Another possible explanation in the article: the game has become less accessible to the casual player because the sport is being organized around the kids who specialize in one sport year-round.
I doubt that explanation. If enough kids (or parents) were interested in casual play, the more casual options would be there to meet their demand.
I have another theory: video games. The article says that one predictor of future fans is how many kids played the sport as a child. So, major leagues are concerned with the drop in participation rates.
But, as a youth soccer coach, I think they are missing something.
I think casual play has been replaced, in large part, by experiencing and learning the sports casually through video games.
Granted, kids play a fair amount of Minecraft, Clash of Clans and Call of Duty, but they also play a good portion of the video games that carry the same names as the major sports leagues. Why go through the trouble of actually playing when you can satisfy your desire and keep up with the leagues (like who’s on who’s team) through a video game?