Why 70% of Kids Quit Sports at Age 13
On January 2, 2003 Laura Langendorf posted an article on the Sports Esteem blog.
This article starts in the traditional way;According to the National Alliance for Sports, of the 20 million kids who sign up, 70 percent quit playing league sports by the age of 13 and never play again. The media points to enraged parents and bad sportsmanship as the biggest problem in youth sports.The key word is ‘Media’. Not only the traditional media but the uninformed players, fans and family too.
It is genius to point out that seventy percent of parents don’t go south at age 13 on the sports scene with their kids. After all they made it quite a few years. If the kid started hockey at age three or four then the parent enjoyed nine or ten years of success! Pretty good track record don’t you think?
So we are left with statistics from the National Alliance for Sports to explain why it goes south for seven out of ten kids. Unfortunately and as is often the case the ’statistics’ don’t take into consideration reality. Giving a bunch of thirteen year old sports drop-outs a survey form and asking them to select the check box that best answers the question on why they quit doesn’t really let you see behind the mask (or mirror in some cases).
What is missing is an understanding of child brain development. As kids hit puberty they take on a new sense of self yet do not have the brain development to explain it to National Alliance for Sports, their parents, coaches or even themselves. So IMHO talking to your child to understand how he or she feels, helping guide them through their emotions or sort out their innermost thoughts is one big waste of time.
The human brain doesn’t fully develop its capacity for rational thought until approximately the age of 23 years! A researcher on the subject quipped teenagers act like they don’t care. Why? Because they don’t! Given their brain development, they are physically incapable of it.
For my money if you want to give your teenagers a fighting chance at sports then you will have to make it a requirement, not an option. If you leave the rationally challenged youths to their own means seventy percent of them will sit in front of the video screen all day, every day. In my play book that is not an option.