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Let’s Fix Youth Sports

01. Bring Back the Fun

De-emphasize elite teams and focus on sports teams open to all, reduce pressure and cost, and restore the fun of sports. One way is to ditch year-round clubs—especially for younger athletes—and return to seasonal sports, where kids learn the joys of many sports and experience more natural physical development, with fewer injuries from repetitive movements.

02. Get Young Brains in Motion

Movement is the method for brain development, and we need to ensure that kids are moving for several hours every day. For those who don’t play sports, the sedentary lure of social media and video games puts them at risk of physical and cognitive stagnation.

03. More Recess, Not Less

Recess improves kids’ mental and physical health and makes learning easier and more effective. Having recess before lunch helps in-class attention and learning and promotes better eating habits because kids don’t rush through lunch to get outside. Move all schools toward multiple recess periods when kids can engage in free play or get motivated through structured games and activities.

04. Increase Access, Increase Opportunity

Sports can open up a lifetime of opportunity to underserved youth. Coaches, counselors and therapists need to be more engaged, and communities and governments need to make investments to bring down the costs of sports participation to levels where everyone can participate. Sports can be the great equalizer, but that requires equal access.

05. All-Gender Teams Create Fairness

Fair sports participation requires a stronger emphasis on all-gender games, teams and activities from an early age. Develop handicapping systems to allow all to compete on an equal basis

06. Money to the Athletes

In today’s world, entrepreneurial young athletes can build their own audiences and drive revenue through social media streams. This allows kids to be rewarded for their talents, both athletic and entrepreneurial, and for sponsors to support school programs. The time has come to break the NCAA and pro sports stranglehold on revenue.

07. Reduce Recruitment, Increase Participation

Eliminate recruitment in major sports before junior year of high school and pressure on kids and families will drop dramatically. Despite reforms in non-revenue-generating sports, the recruitment system still puts pressure on kids to specialize early, to excel rather than enjoy, and leaves them disappointed when they commit too soon and find pro – grams changed by the time they arrive as college first-years.

08. Get Out of Bounds

Put resources behind “alt sports,” which offer a broad horizon of activities for kids to pursue for pure fun outside the realm of traditional team sports. Break-throughs in AI, mental health research and exercise psychology will spawn new programs rooted in kinesiology and learning, adding to the options and benefits for kids.

09. Make Esports Safe for All

To benefit society the way other sports do, the esports industry needs to eliminate lingering sexist toxicity by establishing more women’s teams and leagues and equal access to scholar – ships as esports become accepted as a collegiate sport.

10. Merge Digital Games with Physical Sports

Kids will do what they enjoy, so creating games based on AR/VR will merge their interest in video games with physical sports to get them moving. Technological developments that bring down the cost of digital exercise platforms and devices will open access to these new sports, allowing kids to pursue digital rewards in these games that also help keep them fit.

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