Youth sports are becoming increasingly competitive, and most parents believe children are suffering.
According to a new national poll released by the espnW: Women + Sports Summit this weekend, two-thirds of parents think there is “too much emphasis on winning over having fun,” and 87% of parents said they were worried about the risk of injury in sports.
Parents are most concerned about concussions on the high school football field, which increasingly have been in the headlines lately (including on TIME’s cover). Just in the past week, three high school football players in Alabama, North Carolina and New York have died, possibly due to football injuries.
Parental concerns could explain the drop in participation in youth sports in the last several years. In 2008, 44.5% of children ages 6-12 participated in some type of sports organization. Only 40% of children did so in 2013, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Football, basketball, baseball and soccer have all seen double-digit declines in participation (though lacrosse and hockey have not).
The Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program and ESPN polled 1,511 Americans with data weighted by age, gender, race and income to match the overall characteristics of Americans.
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