Date of Award
Elizabeth Dodge, M.F.A.
Lisa Hibl, M.F.A., Ph.D.
Nationally, since 2008, participation in youth sports (ages 6-17) has dropped significantly. The declining trend--from 45% down to 37%-- can be attributed to many factors
- The rising cost associated with general participation in programs, especially at the middle and high school levels
- Early specialization in one sport along with the introduction of hypercompetitiveness in younger age groups
- The need for coaches to have much more training and certification to get a foot in the door at schools and recreation programs around the country.
These factors cause a significant divide between underprivileged and privileged youth, creating a situation of haves and have-nots with respect to youth participation in sports.
My 30-hour service learning project afforded me hands-on experience instructing youth martial arts classes at the Greater Portland Branch YMCA, where I worked directly with youth from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Specific information on participation trends was acquired through interviews with management, and a review of recent literature in Sports Medicine and Recreation and Leisure Studies journals provided data on national trends.
Allen, Ian, "The Y Can’t Do It All: Examining the Decline of Participation in Youth Athletics" (2018). Thinking Matters Symposium. 134.