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Survey: Most Kids Stop Playing Sports by Age 11

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A new survey conducted by the Aspen Institute with the Utah State University Families in Sports Lab found that the average child stops playing sports by age 11. 

The survey found that only 38 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 participated in team sports on a regular basis in 2019 — down from 45 percent in 2008, according to separate research conducted by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. The survey sought insights into why kids give up on team sports, and found that most give up a particular sport after 2.86 years on average.

Two key reasons for kids quitting sports were identified with the survey: first, that kids aren’t having fun playing anymore and second, that parents are feeling financial pressure to keep their kids involved.

The survey collected responses from adults in all 50 states whose children participate in team sports. Among respondents who reported their child quit a sport, 36 percent said that their child had lost interest or stopped enjoying the sport — the reason for quitting most often cited.

In a release announcing the survey results, Dr. Travis Dorsch, who founded the Families in Sports Lab and designed the survey, said that coaches who make excessive demands on kids and parents are a major concern. “It’s a serious problem if at 8, 9, 10 years old, kids are deciding or being told ‘this sport isn’t for you,’ ” he said. 

Likewise, Dorsch suggested that the financial resources families devote to sports participation could be creating pressure from both ends. 

“For the parent who’s putting down $10,000 for their kid to play soccer, they see it as giving their kid every opportunity,” he said. “But the kid may feel, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re putting down $10,000 and now I feel pressure to perform.’ ”

The survey results will form the basis of a new public awareness campaign called “Don’t Retire Kid,” which launched in early August.

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