After it All: Youth leaving sports

Oct 6, 2019, 11:46 AM
Utah school sports...
High School football has been cleared to begin as soon as next month, which appears to have players from other states now transferring to Utah. (PHOTO: Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)
(PHOTO: Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — It hasn’t happened for thirty years, but now, high schools across the United States have reported a decline in the number of students playing sports.

The National Federation of State High School Associations says more than 43,000 fewer kids participating in sports this year, compared to last.

“That doesn’t surprise me. Doesn’t surprise me at all. Because sports aren’t fun anymore!” says Dave Noriega one of the hosts of KSL Newsradio’s Dave and Dujanovic program.

“I love sports! But playing sports is your life now,” he continued.

If you want to play sports, it has to consume every waking moment, every conversation, every spare disposable income and every second of your life. That’s how it feels right now!”

Billion dollar industry

Sports have become a multi-billion dollar industry. One research organization, Wintergreen Research, in an exclusive report for TIME Magazine, reported that the U.S. youth-sports economy is now a $15.3 billion market.  Noriega says that’s put the pressure on students that want to play and succeed, not to mention parents. The same research agency says parents can spend at least 10% of their income on youth sports fees, equipment and travel.

The pressure of making it into the big leagues or getting college scholarships pressures kids into feeling that they need a hitting coach or a pitching coach or a personal trainer. All that pressure, Noriega says makes kids feel like they have to give up their summers and their weekends to get enough practice.

Safety concerns

Another thing that might have led to this decline in sports could be safety concerns.

Debbie Dujanovic says her daughter Liz received a concussion when she was hit in the head by a softball during a  tournament.

“She was out of the game for about three weeks and completely frustrated,” Dujanovic said.

“And this was through no fault of her own. Some girl just overthrew to the first baseman and beaned [her daughter] in the back of the head.” Dujanovic says the ball hit her daughter so hard that, “it bounced off the back of her head, went all the way out, catapulted over the right fielder’s head, and she was the one who paid the consequences.”

Is the decline noticeable?

The National Federation of State High School Associations says that in the 2018-19 school year a total of 7,937,491 students participated in high school sports. A decline of 43,000 might not look like much, but is it the tip of the iceberg?

Dave and Dujanovic spoke to John Oglesby, the Assistant Director of the Utah High School Activities Association about this topic, and asked how Utah compares to the national move away from sports in a special General Conference edition of “After it All.”

You can hear the rest of their conversation in the podcast below.

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Anastasiya Sayer, 11, joins others in rallying against the war in Ukraine at the Capitol in Salt La...
Curt Gresseth

Through donations, Ukrainian woman in Idaho seeks to ease suffering of war

The war in Ukraine may have faded from the daily news but a Ukrainian-born woman now in Idaho is dedicated to collecting and sending supplies to meet the needs of suffering Ukrainians.
2 days ago
FILE - This Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo shows application icons from left, Facebook, Facebook...
Curt Gresseth

Expert gives tips on conquering your downward social media scroll

Are you addicted to the social-media scroll? An expert weighs in on what you can do to slow the scroll.
8 days ago
High water in the Gardiner River along the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana, ...
Curt Gresseth

Be ready for flash flooding: Expert shares advice

An expert with the Utah Division of Emergency Management shares his expertise and crucial tips on how to be ready for flash flooding when you are in a vehicle or at home.
9 days ago
salt lake mayorMendenhall guns...
Curt Gresseth

After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights

Two advocates on either side of the gun-control vs. gun rights debate sound off on the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling to expand the right to carry a firearm in public.
14 days ago
Salt Lake County Search and Rescue safely rescued a hiker  out of the Lisa Falls trail on Friday.
Curt Gresseth

Search and rescue expert has tips for hikers

Before you head out on your hike, take someone with you, tell somebody where you are going and when you plan to return. Those are just a few words for hikers from an expert on search and rescue.
15 days ago
A fire engine is seen as the Sheep fire burns in Wrightwood, Calif., Monday, June 13, 2022. (AP Pho...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What to do when wildfires close in on your home

Will you be ready if wildfires close in on your home? A survivor of a wildfire shares his experience and an expert shares tips and advice.
16 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.