Eliminate inequity in youth sports

Growing up, who gets to play sports?
This might sound like a dumb question, but it’s something to think about. The easy answer might be, “Well, kids get to play sports.” But that wouldn’t be completely correct. Yes, kids get to play sports, but not all kids.
There is so much inequality in youth sports. Even at a young age, kids are thrust into a world of disadvantages when they should be able to enjoy fun things like athletics. We at the Clarion see this as an issue, and hope to see a future of accessible sports.
Only 16 percent of all boys in youth sports and 15 percent of all girls are Black. 15 percent of athletes are Hispanic males and 17 percent are Hispanic females, and only 12 percent of Asian boys and eight percent of Asian girls play youth sports, according to research done by Ohio University. These numbers don’t match up with the country’s demographics for children. Only about half of children in the U.S. are white, while white children make up over half of youth athletes.
Seventy-one percent of parents with disabled children said their kids would like to participate in sports. Despite this, 38 percent of kids with disabilities’ parents responded that there were no accessible programs for the kids. These children should have an opportunity to play sports as well.
Sports can get expensive very quickly. Even if a child only plays in their high school season, they still need all the gear that goes with their sport. Beyond that, many sports essentially require that you play a club season if you want to make it on the team next year. Some kids join club teams so they won’t get cut from their school team the following year.
Looking at class, families that made less than $35,000 entered sports at a later age than those who are more affluent. The older you are when you join, the farther behind your peers you will be. This doesn’t mean one can never get better, but it gives them a slow start in a race that is already unfair.
In more recent years, laws have started to be passed that ban transgender kids from competing with kids with their same gender. Some lawmakers are trying to force them to participate with the gender assigned to them at birth. The Protecting Women in Sports Act about this topic has been introduced in Wisconsin, while similar bills have been passed in some states like South Dakota and Florida.
Why are laws being created to keep even more kids out of sports? Already, they aren’t equitable. So many kids are forced out because sports aren’t equitable. Adding laws into it is not morally right.
Last year, the Trevor project found that one in three LGBTQ+ youth participated in sports. Many were steered away from sports for fear of harassment or not being welcome on the team. Children should be encouraged to join sports, and feel welcomed on the team when they do. Having laws that prevent and stigmatize this can lead to bullying or a feeling of othering.
So as it stands, LGBTQ+ youth are facing difficulties in their everyday lives, much less once they join an athletic team. Then when legislation that discriminates against who they are is being widely talked about and even passed, this pushes them further away from sports. In some cases, kids can’t even legally play their sport. This is unacceptable.
When you think about who gets to play sports, think about the privilege that comes with it. There are so many kids being pushed out of sports, whether by law or by circumstances out of their control. It’s time to recognize these issues and show support for all the youth. We at the Clarion condemn laws that force children out of sports.