Students are Starting to Hang up Their Cleats


In recent years more and more student athletes have been hanging up the cleats, or quitting the sports they play

In America, it seems as if many students’ weeks are shaped by sports, whether it be weekends filled with football and tailgating or high schools coming together for Friday night games. 

It also shapes the lives of the 45 million children who play organized sports across the United States, according to Active Kids.

Youth sports are supposed to be a time to have fun with other kids and play a game that you enjoy. The time for fun and games has seemed to decline recently, as more kids have started to drop out of sports.

Sam Hagen, a sophomore who plays soccer for Air Academy, said, “I think that there is definitely too much pressure for students in sports. I recently quit club soccer and it was really expensive; the uniforms alone were $400… I think between the time and money put into sports, it puts unfair pressure on kids who play them.”

The root cause has mainly been attributed to the pressure placed on kids when they are participating in the sports that they enjoy. Even though it is supposed to only be a game, many kids find that they are disciplined for poor performances. A study from Yellowbrick found that only 24% of children said that they were never disciplined for a poor performance in their games.

That same study showed that children felt a lot of pressure from their own family, the people that are supposed to support them no matter what. It showed that 30% of people felt the most pressure from their immediate family.

A part of this issue is that select travel teams can start for kids at the age of seven. This leads to a highly competitive environment for kids that haven’t even been playing sports for more than three or four years. These early divides have led to a huge decline in the participation of youth sports.

Charles Schwartz, Air Academy Cross Country coach, said, “I feel that because kids are starting sports at such a young age, it can have both physical and mental consequences. I think that it causes some athletes to burn out by high school and they lose motivation.”

By the age of 15, when these athletes begin to enter high school, a whopping 80% of athletes had quit youth sports altogether, according to a study conducted by Open Access Journalism of Sports Medicine. Some of this is due to an expanding range of interests and less time in a high school schedule, but a lot of this is because of the intense pressure put on kids from an early age.

This pressure also stems from the parents’ desires for their children to be the best and be successful in whatever they participate in. They invest hundreds of thousands of dollars for club sports and private training in the hope that their child will play during college, or even professionally.

This is almost never good for the child, though, as only one percent of youth athletes will ever play at a professional level. The pressure placed on these athletes needs to be reduced. This could happen by raising the age for travel teams or have better training for recreational coaches.

Justin Ballard, a junior who plays lacrosse and soccer for Air Academy, was already playing for a soccer team that was linked to a professional team in elementary school. He said, “I quit because it was taking up so much time and money, so when I moved to Colorado from Texas I decided to quit. It just didn’t seem worth it.”

Youth sports has turned into an industry that receives $17 billion annually through fees, equipment, and travel. It has turned into a business rather than a place where kids can learn a sport, as well as life values. There has to be a collective effort from coaches, parents, and athletes to return fun and joy to sports and not make them as stressful for those involved in them.