A professor who has studied recreational sports is raising concerns that club sports are limiting opportunities for some young people in ways that can present a lifetime of negative consequences.
Kimberly Shinew is a professor in the University of Illinois’ Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism. She is presenting “Equity and Access Issues Related to Recreation and Sports In Our Society” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center.
Shinew said club sports often charge hefty fees for youth to participate, thus excluding many children who are often put at a disadvantage in playing sports in school.
“Not in all sports but in some sports if you are not playing club sports it is very difficult to make your teams in middle school and high school,” Shinew said. “That is a real shame.
“That is my biggest concern about this club sports model.”
Shinew added the price tag can also create a sense of entitlement for those who are able to make the financial commitment.
“Heaven forbid they pay the $1,000 for their kids to play in this elite league and then they don’t make the team in middle school, the sixth grade basketball team,” Shinew said. “Then you can understand why parents can get quite upset because they feel like they’ve made an investment into that particular activity.”
Shinew added that the longer children participate in youth sports, the longer they are likely to stay active as adults.
She added crime, poverty and discrimination are three factors that limit access to youth sports. She said those factors are often intertwined.
She said discrimination can be institutional, structural or individual, but may not be intentional. She advised any who feels they are a victim of discrimination to bring it to the attention of program leaders to give them the opportunity to address it.
“It’s very difficult to be aware of everything and to be aware of all the different types of unique situations people might be bringing to a particular context,” Shinew said.
She stressed the need for municipalities to maintain strong youth recreation programs to ensure that all children have such an outlet.
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