Commissioner Goodell Shares Insights on Youth Sports Participation | Athletic Business

Commissioner Goodell Shares Insights on Youth Sports Participation

Source: Sports & Fitness Industry Association

SILVER SPRING, MD – September 15, 2015 – Specializing in one sport at an early age may be negatively impacting overall youth sports participation in the United States according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

“I worry so much about putting pressure on kids that if you don’t commit to a sport by fourth or fifth grade, you’re out of luck. There’s a lot of pressure we’re putting on our kids whether it’s coming from coaches, leagues, or parents.” said Commissioner Goodell.  Goodell’s comments came during the 2015 SFIA Industry Leaders Summit held last week in New Orleans.   

Along with Commissioner Goodell, Olympic pitcher Jennie Finch and nationally known orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews took the stage as a panel to weigh in on the current youth sports system. Finch noted the significant values and character building that comes from sports participation and how specialization is impacting these takeaways. “The focus should be on those life lessons, building character, and building self-confidence, determination, and benefitting from all those things you get from team sports” said Finch. Dr. Andrews discussed the dropout rate and declining participation levels that result from specialization and emphasized the need to make sports more inclusive, “We need to open the doors and make sure everybody has an opportunity to participate at whatever level they can”, said Andrews.

Following the panel, SFIA Chairman Bob Puccini, PHIT America Founder Jim Baugh, and SFIA President & CEO Tom Cove presented strong first year results from the Increase Participation Plan (IPP). Since the launch of the IPP at the 2014 SFIA Industry Leaders Summit, the joint initiative of SFIA and PHIT America has raised over $420,000 of grant funding, distributed 156 GO! Grants in 22 states, and surpassed its initial goal by impacting over 50,000 children. Puccini concluded the presentation with a heartfelt statement on the importance of the IPP and getting involved, “I come to you with this issue in three ways: as the chairman of the industry, as president of Mizuno USA, and personally as a father and grandfather. Its genuine and I really look at it as: ‘If it’s not us, then who’s going to do it.’ It’s in our hands.” 

The date and location of the 2016 Industry Leaders Summit will be announced later this fall and related information will be made available at

ABOUT SFIA:  The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs, and member services. For more information, please visit

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