Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Economic Correction Factor in Youth Sports

Economic Correction Factor in Youth Sports

While Steven Kotler's recent blog, "High Cost of Playing of Playing Ball,"
raises questions about the trickle-down effect the economy will have on
professional sports, will youth sports also experience a correction factor? At
the professional level, Kotler indicates that fewer fans will pay high ticket
fees to attend sporting contests. Given this progression, will parents of youth
in sports continue to pay high seasonal fees for club and travel teams?

Recently, in the Boston Globe, a youth sports facility director said that many
families are continuing to enroll in their sport programs and offerings because
youth sports are still an affordable and healthy way for families to spend time
together on weekends. Yet a sizable group of parents report spending thousands
of dollars seasonally to support the travel, equipment and playing costs of
their children's travel teams. Families with several children in youth sports
are spending much more.

For some parents, they may simply decide that the cost is not worth the
potential benefit and resort to playing for less expensive and demanding
recreational teams. I wonder how many parents are making these decisions now.
Clearly, many children derive great enjoyment and benefit from their travel
sporting experiences, but perhaps these times are taking us toward more
community play as opposed to regional or even national competition. And while
some kids may miss out on a higher level of play or more exposure to potential
college recruiters, they may also benefit from more time at home, greater rest,
and opportunity to enjoy school and neighborhood friends.

But this is also another and perhaps more important correction factor to
consider. With various examples of poor leadership and decision-making among our
business leadership, youth sports offers a key arena to teach the values of fair
play, hard work over time, and respect for the rules and the integrity of the
games they play. Clearly, winning at the expense of values is not really winning
at all in the end.

Richard D. Ginsburg, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Co-Director, MGH Sport Psychology Program
PACES Institute (Performance and Character Excellence in Sports)
Harvard Medical School
617-724-6300 (x 136-4416)
617-244-6491 (private practice)
617-244-7979 (fax)
www.whosegameisitanyway.com <http://www.whosegameisitanyway.com/>

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