10 ways to improve sports in American Society
Improving sports in American Society is critical for the role it plays in society. There are a number of ways sports can be improved. These include: creating a positive environment that enhances passion among the youth; reducing the cost of participating in competitive sports; improving recreational infrastructure and facilities; engaging parents in sports; increasing sport development officers per each state; develop programs that link students with clubs outside schools; promoting sharing of school recreational facilities with local communities; creating partnerships with relevant bodies; developing promotional messages on the benefits of sports; targeting non-participate in sports with other alternatives or their inspirational interests. This paper will give a further analysis of the ten ways of improving sports in American society.
In order to improve sports in the U.S., various stakeholders must find ways of improving youth participation. Over the recent period, youth participation in sports has dropped significantly. According to Wallerson (2014), high school football participation reduced by 2.3% in the period between 2008 and 2013. Reports indicate the fewer children are engaging in sports today. If the trend continues, the situation could be dire in the near future. Participation in football, basketball, soccer and baseball combined fell by 4 percent in the period between 2008 and 2012. The decline in numbers was observed among young people aged between 6 and 17 years of age. This data was gathered and released by industry associations, youth leagues and school-sports groups.
In order to curb this problem, relevant stakeholders must create a positive sport environment that enhances passion among the youth. Passion can be enhanced among the youth by teaching them of the various positive impacts on their health when they engage in sports. Sports can help the youth avoid childhood obesity, offer psychological benefits such as stress relief, improve cognitive skills, and avoid drug and substance abuse. It is only through learning about the positive benefits of sports besides the thrill of winning that the youth will be willing to engage more in sports by enhancing their passion for sports.
There is need to reduce the cost of developing athletes and participating in competitive sports. The high cost of participating in sporting activities especially in schools has locked out majority of low-income students from participating. The emergence of elite sport training and grade school travel teams have locked out many willing low-income students from engaging in sports. According to The Aspen Institute (2015), 32 percent of parents earning below $ 50,000 per year sighted high costs of participating in sports as major factor to discontinue their children’s involvement in organized sporting activities. The disparities due to income levels persist even in adulthood, with the report indicating that only 15 percent of low-income earners (below $25,000 per year) participate in sports, and 37 percent of high income earners (above $75,000 per year) participating in sports. In order to fix the problem, schools should increase their aid to organized sports programs. According to Sullivan (2015, Jan 16), only about 3 percent of students receive school aid. Increasing aid to organized sport programs will enable even the low-income students to fully participate in sporting activities and thus eliminate the problem.
Participation in sports in the U.S. is also hindered by inadequate sporting infrastructure and facilities in certain areas and states. About half of all outdoor activities occur in parks. Statistics indicate that about 66 percent of children do not have access to parks (“The ASPEN Institute,” 2015). These are mainly in areas dominated by minority groups such as the Hispanics and African Americans. Lack of parks discourages participation in sport and recreational activities. According to Moore et al. (2008), improving sporting facilities and parks in low-income areas can increase physical activity among individuals living around such areas. Areas identified as having low facilities include Maryland, low income areas around Los Angeles, low-income areas of New York among others (Moore et al., 2008).
In order to fix the above problem, there is need to increase the provision of federal funds set aside for various disadvantaged states. In the recent years, the federal government has reduced allocations to states making it difficult to maintain existing public parks or to develop new ones. Currently, the federal government allocates matching grants to all states for parks and recreational facilities purposes irrespective of the existing state of the facilities in those areas (“U.S. Department of the interior,” 2015). There is need to set aside special funds for disadvantaged neighborhoods which can be used in construction and maintenance of parks and other recreational facilities. Such grants can help poor states to develop local sporting amenities relative to other states.
There is need to engage more parents in sports. Parents have a significant influence on their children’s involvement in sports. Parents who understand the benefits of sports to their children can offer support or encouragement to their children and in the process help them excel in sports. Parents are important in helping their children initiate to initiate and sustain participation in sports. On the other hand, about 25 percent of parents openly discourage their children from participating in one form of sporting activities or all (“The ASPEN Institute,” 2015). This is due to certain concerns such as risks of injuries and poor coaching. Some parents keep their children away from engaging in certain sports due to the risks of suffering concussions. A recent survey indicated that 40percent of the parents interviewed would prefer their children engage in a different sport other than American football. Majority of parents are concerned due to the risks of concussions (O’Connor, 2014).
In order to solve the problem, it is important to first eliminate its root cause. Sport injuries such as concussion have made students wary about letting their children participate in sports. Relevant bodies such as NFL should launch programs to ensure that all safety regulations are adhered to by the participants. Some of the programs should also be aimed at promoting player safety in all sporting activities where there are higher chances of risks. According to O’Connor (2014), parents are likely to encourage their children to participate in sports when safety measures are adopted to prevent the risk of serious injuries. Making sporting activities safer will reduce concerns about the risk of injuries among parents. Parents will be willing to encourage their children to engage in the sporting activities.
In order to improve sports in the American Society, there is need for additional sport development officers in each state. Sport development officers are involved in development of effective programs that can encourage individuals to participate in sports. Sport development officers work in healthcare facilities, community groups, schools, local councils, private organizations, and among government authorities. Their main roles include engaging volunteers within local sports club, linking schools with qualified and experienced coaches, helping clubs apply for funding, promoting new opportunities for various community clubs, and among other roles. Currently, there are low numbers of sport development officers in majority of communities in the U.S. Sport development officers also earn less especially those working in local communities. This has discouraged a majority of people from engaging in the job. In order to fix the problem, there is need to review the salaries of sport development officers. Increasing their salary will attract more people into the profession Robert (“Wood Johnson Foundation,” 2012).
There is need to develop programs that link more young individuals with clubs outside the school. It is important for clubs and schools to work closely together. Currently, the number of young people who engage in sports falls dramatically once they leave school or once they complete their formal education. When majority of the young leave school, they hardly engage in any sport activities. Having links with schools can increase participation of school leavers in sport activities with clubs. Establishing links between clubs and schools will give an opportunity to the young people to engage themselves in sport activities once they leave school. It enables the young people to feel comfortable in the new settings and hence they are more likely to continue participating in sports once they leave school. In addition, majority of students in schools are not aware of the available local clubs in their area and the criteria for joining. Creating club-school links will enable the young people to interact with individuals outside the school and hence create continuity in that once they leave school they can engage in sports in the community.
Sports can also be improved by promoting sharing of schools recreational facilities with the local communities in order to improve their participation in sports. Schools have the necessary recreational facilities that can be put into use by the local communities for a small fee. School recreational facilities can be opened to the local community when students leave school, for instance weekends, summer season, after school hours, and during other holidays when students are not in school. Majority of schools are centrally located within the respective communities they serve, meaning majority of people can access them at any time. In addition, schools have adequate resources in terms of gymnasiums, courts, sports fields, playgrounds and other necessary facilities which the immediate communities can make use of. Sharing of recreational facilities between schools and the community is a cost-effective way to both the community and the school. This is because the school will have its recreational facilities being fully utilized while the community members pay a small fee compared to the amount charged by the local authorities to use their recreational facilities (“Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” 2012).
There is need for establishing partnerships with the relevant health agencies in order to develop and implement successful programs which can be used for recreation, sport purposes and also serve to improve the health of community members. Innovative approaches from different sectors can help reduce chronic diseases and promote healthy lifestyles among individuals. For instance, there is need to develop sport activities suitable for elderly individuals who may not be able to participate in normal competitions. This can tremendously improve the health of all individuals in the community by encouraging all individuals to participate in sports. In addition, when middle aged individuals participate in sports, more young people are likely to engage in sports too since the elderly act as role models to the young.
In order to improve sports in the American society, there is need for reinforcing health promotional messages to people on the benefits of participating in sports. Currently, little promotional messages are passed to the public on the benefits of participating in sports. Physical activity is important in reducing chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart diseases and other lifestyle diseases. Media campaigns should be established to encourage people to participate in sports, or recreational programs that involve physical activity. According to Macera (2010), about 400,000 deaths per year occur due to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, stroke, diabetes, osteroporosis and others. More than half of these diseases could be prevented by proper diet and physical exercise. Worse still, studies indicate that young people who fail to participate in sports while at school are less likely to do so on completing school. There thus a need for appropriate promotional messages and media campaigns encouraging individuals to participate in sports or other forms of physical activities. Promotional messages and media campaigns can be effective in changing the attitudes of people; hence this can be a good way to eliminate the problem. Efforts should thus be geared towards creating awareness of the benefits of sports.
There is need to target individuals who do not participate in sports with other inspirational interests or outdoor sporting activities such as swimming, hiking, camping, jogging, skating, cycling, and among others. Participation in sports has sharply declined in among younger people compared to the older people above 45 years. This is a worrying trend, taking into consideration that lifestyle diseases have spiked over the recent period. In order to get more involved in sporting activities, there is need to promote a variety of sports. This will provide more opportunities to young people to engage in sports or sport activities that will help improve their health. Outdoor sporting activities such as cycling which are often preferred by non-participants in sports can be encouraged by providing the necessary facilities. For example, development of cycling lanes significantly boosts cycling among young people. Outdoor sporting activities targeted among non-participants in sports will significantly increase the number of people engaged in physical activities.
Macera, C. (2010). Promoting Healthy Eating and physical Activity or a Healthier Nation. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/publications/pdf/pp-ch7.pdf
Moore, L. V., Roux, A. D., Evenson, K. R., McGinn, A. P., & Brines, S. J. (2008). Availability of Recreational resources in Minority and Low Socioeconomic Status Areas. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34(1), 16-22.
O’Connor, P. (2014). Poll Finds 40% Would Sway Children Away from Football. The Wall Street Journal.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, (2012). Promoting Physical Activity through the Shared Use of School and community Recreational Resources. Active Living Research.
Sullivan, P. (2015). The Rising Costs of Youth Sports, in Money and Emotion. The New York Times.
The Aspen Institute, (2015). Facts: Sports Activity and Children. Retrieved from: http://www.aspenprojectplay.org/the-facts
The Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), (2013). 2013 Sports, Fitness and Leisure Activities. Topline Participation Report. Retrieved from: http://espn.go.com/pdf/2013/1113/espn_otl_sportsreport.pdf
U.S. Department of the Interior, (2015). National Park Service. Retrieved from http://www.nps.gov/lwcf/index.htm
Wallerson, R. (2014, Jan, 31). Youth Participation Weakens in Basketball, Football, Baseball, Soccer. The Wall Street Journal.