In this article on Changing the Game Project (dot com), an organization trying to breathe sanity back into youth sports, the author goes over some reasons why kids quit sports and things that can be done to help.
As a youth coach, I’ve had a couple parents forward this article to me when they disagreed with my coaching.
Here is a snippet from the article:
As I have stated here many times, 70% of children are dropping out of organized sports by the age of 13. Whenever I mention this sad statistic, people come out of the wood work saying that it’s only the kids who aren’t good enough to play that quit. They say it’s an age where school, jobs and other interests take precedence. These things are true and contribute to a part of the dropout rate, but they are not the entire picture.
We don’t simply lose the kids who cannot make varsity; we lose many of the best athletes on our teams.
One problem is that the author, John O’Sullivan, doesn’t quantify how much these other factors contribute to the dropout rate.
Basic math says that the vast majority of kids who dropout are the kids that cannot make varsity. If only the top 20% of kids make the high school team, that means 80% don’t. If only the top 5% of the high school athletes make a college team, 95% don’t.
In my experience, around ages 11 – 14 kids come to one of a few reality checks.
They may realize that even being average in a sport takes work they aren’t willing to put in.
Or, they come to understand the odds of them becoming a college or pro players is really low.
I appreciate O’Sullivan’s efforts to want to take some of the adult toxicity out of youth sports.
But, I also believe there’s nothing wrong with a 70% dropout rate by age 13. My guess is that statistic has remained consistent over time because it tracks the winnowing of the field to make the cut for high school, college and pro.
If efforts to keep kids playing sports longer work, I believe it may have some ill consequences — mainly, keeping kids from doing other things that may be more worth while.