Give Kids a Sporting Chance
Kids are healthier when they’re active. It’s past time to restart pandemic pauses.
As pandemic restrictions drag on in many parts of the United States, their negative impact on the mental and physical health of America’s children has become more obvious. Persistent school closures, in particular, have contributed to a decline in student achievement and a rise in mental-health problems. Closely tied to school shutdowns has been a dramatic curtailing of youth sports. Though children as a group have largely escaped the most serious effects of COVID-19, nearly half of all parents of youth athletes say that their kids have yet to get back to sports participation after the virus put an end to their youth leagues. The results, researchers say, include rising obesity rates and levels of depression. With many local sports groups collapsing after more than two years of lockdowns and parents reporting less interest by children in sports, reviving this valuable contributor to kids’ health and well-being won’t be easy.
In an Aspen Institute survey on youth sports released late last year, some 45% of American parents said that local community programs and so-called travel teams had either disappeared during the pandemic or returned with reduced capacity. Nearly a quarter said that the lost programs were an impediment to getting their children back into games, and 28% said that their kids had lost interest in organized sports since the shutdowns. That’s up from 19% in a similar survey taken a year earlier.
This piece originally appeared in The Dallas Morning News