This is our first article in a series on how towns and cities can encourage athletic participation. We discuss public education and its impact on youth sports.
While doing some research for a previous blog post, I came across an interesting headline: “L.A. Mayor Garcetti wants money for youth sports if city hosts 2028 Olympics”. I was disappointed, as the article detailed the Olympics rather than Eric Garcetti’s plans for funding Los Angeles youth sports. Another interesting (albeit saddening) headline came to my attention: “The Crisis of Sports in Inner-City America”. All of this got me thinking: how are towns and cities currently impacting their local youth sports, and how can they improve their impact in the future?
In many towns and cities, the public education system can serve as a bridge between kids and their local sports teams. This is beneficial because academic success and athletic success tend to feed into one another.
However, the public education system turns into an obstacle more often than not. The rise of standardized testing (compacted by the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act in the early 2000’s) de-prioritized youth sport participation in the public consciousness. In this bid for higher academic achievement, less was spent on youth sport programs. Unfortunately, youth sport participation has fallen while higher academic achievement has eluded kids and well-intentioned lawmakers.
There isn’t much that towns and cities can do to solve this. Ultimately, this is an issue that can only be solved at the state and federal levels. What towns and cities can do is to advocate on their residents’ behalf at the state and federal levels, and they can encourage their public school districts to put funding back into youth sport programs. Then we can bring about the results we all want: kids will be more likely to succeed academically and athletically.