CEHS Research Featured in TIME Cover Story
At increasingly young ages, aspiring athletes across the United States encounter a youth-sports economy that increasingly resembles the pros. In this new cover story from TIME magazine, USU’s Travis Dorsch, assistant professor in the Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development, provided insight into this phenomenon and its potential risks.
“Many parents are coming to understand that the age of sandlot play, $10 registration fees, and kids representing their neighborhoods in recreational sports feels like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting,” said Dr. Dorsch. “As reported in the TIME article, youth sport has become a $15 billion industry, complete with camps, national tournaments, private instruction, and offseason training.”
Dorsch, founding director of the Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University, added, “The costs for many families can be too much to handle, which means a number of American families are being priced out of a context rife with opportunity for positive youth development.”
The article cites a 2016 study published in the journal Family Relations, in which Dorsch and his colleagues found that the more money families spend on youth sports, the more pressure their kids feel—and the less they enjoy their sport. Dorsch’s thoughts on the imprudence of investing in youth sports rather than saving for college are also quoted in the article. “Our research here at USU has documented parents paying as much as 10 percent of their gross annual income on registration fees, travel, equipment, coaching, and camps—all in an effort to earn a college scholarship. This spending is in many cases misguided, as parents could simply spend the equivalent amount of money on college itself.”