Youth Sports Defines Play

PDF version of this article


What could be more fun than being a child and being on a team to play some sport with others your age, structured so that there is adequate coaching to make the game fun. Youth and Recreational Sports League Markets are at $22 Billion Worldwide, $17 Billion in the US, $15 billion spent on the youth themselves for registration, fields of play, equipment, travel, food, coaching, analytics and video.


Youth sports facilities can become part of a community development program. Every team, every sport has appeal, and as there is more leisure while the economy spins out more and more wealth at the top of the economic scale, there will be more spending on sports. Professional sports, betting, fantasy teams, semiprofessional teams, and teams just for fun will continue to look for venues and players.

Youth sports are sure to benefit from this trend. The brightest and the best will want to get topnotch sports training for their children, and the entire middle class will follow as best they can. Sports are fun; the professional teams have begun to recognize that they need to invest in team development programs targeting children starting at age 3. This is when you can get the attention of the child and build skills incrementally that are providing a steady stream of youth available later for the professional teams.

The cost per player while on average is $576 can go over $10,000 per player when there is a lot of ice time, coaching, and equipment. Extended families invest in the player development just because it I fun. Communities go to games and socialize, they build back yard ice rinks.



Youth Sports Market Size 2008 to 2018 In Billions of Dollars





As you would expect, the top five team sports in terms of games played are:



  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Soccer


Number of Elite College Athletic Teams with scholarships and average scholarship for an elite player on those teams.





On average the number of scholarships at high level athletic college schools is 6 players per roster. Football is the exception with an average e of 15 players per roster at the elite football schools.




The average NCAA Division I baseball team has a roster of 35 players but only a maximum of 11.7 athletic scholarships available, and some of those quite small. This means the average award covers in some cases 1/3 of annual college costs and this assumes the sport is fully funded at the sponsoring school.

The numbers are compelling,




Professional teams have noticed that the most ardent fans are those who played a sport as a youth. All the professional leagues have to invest in youth sports because otherwise they do not have players now and fans later,




Foundations and corporate arms of all large companies want to invest in supporting the country’s youth, and what better way than through sports? They can combine educational advancement and interest in sports.

Communities have to invest in youth sports, providing activities that are supervised and thus better for all the residents. Sports and teams provide greater society benefits than just the enjoyment of team play. Communities have found that it is cheaper to invest in planned sporting activities and keep children involved than to deal with the problems caused by kids that grow up without supervision, getting in trouble all the time.

Police departments have become interested in connecting with youth in a positive manner, spending money and time to get to know kids and provide guidance when needed. They are active in getting communities to fund development of facilities. It will be a problem to pay for all the facilities that communities want to build, so it will be interesting to see if communities find ways to contribute to the requisite capital investment.

Private investments that perceive the benefits of youth sporting programs are growing in quantity. Foundations generally see the benefit of children being offered sports opportunities.

Schools have by and large defunded gym programs for children, creating a healthcare crisis of major proportion in the U.S. and other parts of the world, with childhood obesity and asthma creating lifelong chronic disease problems. The good news is that youth sports programs are becoming more available in more affluent parts of the world, poised to deliver healthy activity and build lifelong habits of movement and athletic skills development.

The market opportunity for youth team sports depends on a strong alliance between the schools and modern recreational facilities that meld education, drama, music and sports in a manner that supports learning and athletic development as one melded event.

With the advent of online learning, more students can move at their own pace and achieve academic excellence. One challenge is to make this happen while simultaneously incorporating sports achievement. Athleticism and brain development can be melded if education is done right.

Leagues that purchase and distribute sports software to teams or clubs have created a large market out of what were previously disparate businesses, such as people buying clothes and equipment, and loosely organized groups of youth playing games.