West Chester YMCA uses creative videos to address dropping youth sports participation numbers

Friday, April 5, 2019
YMCA addresses dropping youth sports participation numbers with videos
YMCA addresses dropping youth sports participation numbers with videos. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at 5:30 p.m. on April 4, 2019.

WEST CHESTER (WPVI) -- The YMCA in West Chester says it's running into a problem it's never had before, its younger members are rapidly losing interest in playing sports.

"Kids are dropping off and youth sports is decreasing because kids are saying that it's just not fun anymore," said Denise Day, CEO of YMCA of Greater Brandywine. "There was a study done where there was a list of 81 reasons for kids to play sports and kids ranked winning number 48, but it was at the top of the parents' list. That says something."

A study by the Sports Industry Association found the main reason behind a nationwide drop in athletic participation.

It says parents are ruining sports by demanding not just participation, but perfection, placing incredible pressure on their kids.

The YMCA in West Chester and several others in the region recently decided to tackle the problem head-on with creative videos.

"They seem kind of funny and humorous until they're not," said Day.

David Smith brings his 6-year-old son Tucker to the YMCA nearly every day for an hour of racketball, soccer or basketball.

"If they get disappointed, they get down," said David Smith. "Showing them just keep doing it, keep trying nothing is going to happen to you. Nobody is going to be mad at you. It's all about having fun."

Tucker is certainly competitive but he makes it clear that winning isn't the only reason he's into sports.

"Just to get more friendships," said Tucker. "I learned that at home."

Day said this initiative has been effective so far.

Registration is up 10-12% this year over last year with new applications coming in every day.