Social Injustice with Youth SPorts | Teen Ink

Social Injustice with Youth SPorts

April 30, 2019
By Brickster BRONZE, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
Brickster BRONZE, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Josmer Vela was a 12 year old soccer prodigy from Plano, Texas accomplished with countless awards and an obvious love of the game. However, In 2015 joining an elite travel team along with the rest of his teammates became an impossibility. A sanitation worker, his father Jose Vela had to tell Josmer that their family “simply couldn’t pay thousands for him to travel with the team every weekend”, ending his dream before he could even have the opportunity to pursue it. Josmer, is just one of a rising thousand of kids in America who suffer from the impact of low family income affecting  participation in youth sports. 

Over the last twenty years, there has been a rise in elite youth sports programs intended to boost competition while requiring athletes to travel far to play for these teams. Although a  great opportunity for athletes participating, this 17 Billion dollar industry has been requiring amounts as large as $10,000 to pay for things like equipment, travel, and health insurance making it hard for low income families to support their child’s athletic pursuits. In a study by ESPN, the  overall trend in the United States showed an increase in  participation in youth sports programs from kids in families earning more than $100,000, while  the participation of those in families earning less than that continue to decrease.  

Although the rising cost of youth sports has created an economic divide amongst the youth, this effect has also put a demoralizing effect on the athletes. At the 2000 Laureus World Sports Awards, Nelson Mandela said “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can awaken hope where there was previously only despair.” As more children lose the chance to play sports, they lose their chance to appreciate important life lessons that come from sports.  

So the question remains, how do we provide the opportunity for youths from all backgrounds to be able to participate in youth sports programs? The answer lies in the work done by nonprofit organizations like LA84 and Laureus. They work to provide as many programs across the nation and throughout the world with funds, athletes, and coaches, so that youths from all ages could have the chance to play in some sort of sport. They hold fundraisers, collect donations, and even offer coaching training programs so that youth sports teams could thrive in all types of communities. It’s programs like these and support from local community members that help build and maintain youth sports. So go out to your local youth sports team. Donate money to the program or give away old equipment because you might not need it anymore, but some other child will.  

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