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Will recreational youth sports cease to exist?

MIAMI (NewsNation) — Far fewer children are playing team sports, and there’s a laundry list of reasons why kids are choosing not to participate.

Basketball coach Clifford Tubbs said the decline in youth involvement has become a problem.

“Pretty much the kids are staying home. They’re playing on their Xbox and PlayStation or utilizing TikTok and Instagram to entertain themselves,” Tubbs said.

He said he’s noticed the difference, that kids are missing their shot on something very important.

“There’s plenty of programs out there that are dedicated to developing the child, educating the child, and then there are the programs that are just making money,” Tubbs said.

The Aspen Institute Project Play found that in 2021, only 37% of children ages 6 to 12 regularly play on a sports team. That number has dropped from 45% in 2008.

Jon Solomon, the editorial director for the Aspen Institute sports and society program, said numbers have gone down in part due to certain kids not having access to sports.

“They don’t have the money. They don’t have the time,” Solomon said.

Back on the court, there’s no telling how far tennis will take Javier Socorro’s 4-year-old daughter, but he told NewsNation that the money spent is worth the life lessons learned.

“I think it teaches a lot of valuable skills,” Javier said. “You know they have to learn to work together, work as a team.”

Robert Socorro, Javier’s father, said he supports youth sports but blames technology for keeping kids sidelined and from scoring skills like problem-solving, communication and compassion.

“I was on top of my kids to play sports, play sports,” Robert said. “Nowadays, they have so many things.”

Javier agreed, saying, “There’s just so many more distractions that kids have now.”

Adding to the issue, kid sports and activities can be pretty expensive. Parents have to account for program fees, the cost of uniforms and equipment, instruments if they are in a band and even travel costs.

At the end of the day, coaches and parents said they are worried more kids are missing out on those vital life lessons taught through team activities.

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