Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about the demise of football, especially on the youth level. In fact, participation in youth football is not only growing, it grew faster last year than other sports.
According to a report from NJ Advance Media, 2,169,000 kids between the ages of 6 and 14 played tackle football in 2015. That marked an increase of 1.9 percent. The data comes from the annual Physical Activity Council’s Participation Report. The same report showed sports such as soccer and basketball reported declining participation numbers.
In addition to the growth in tackle football participation, more kids also are playing flag football, the study said. Among that group, participation grew during 2015 by 8.7 percent.
Meanwhile, sports such as soccer and basketball reported declines, according to the report.
Tom Cove, president and CEO of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, told NJ Advance Media the survey results could be the start of a football participation upswing, but cautioned about reading too much into one set of data.
“Those of us who work in youth sports in particular talk about trends and it’s not a quick fix,” Cove said. “We’re not trying to suggest that our numbers say, ‘Everything’s fixed’ because it’s not there. Even if it were a huge number, we’d have to understand why before we say it.”
The growth news comes as there has been a new focus on safety at all levels of the youth game. Cove said there has been a huge effort to communicate with players and their families about the new focus and new training for coaches.