JON FRANKEL:These days,
the places kids go
to play sports have gotten
so big,
that you can only appreciate
their size from high above.
Sprawling complexes
with professional-grade fields,
where teams can play all day
and all night.
And since
there is no off-season anymore
in big time youth sports,there are massive
indoor facilities, too.
If you’re a kid,heck, if you’re an adult,
and you walk in here, you think you’ve died
and gone to sports heaven. This is fantasy land
for athletes. FRANKEL:Dev Pathik is an ownerof Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports
in Ohio,
and is a consultant
to facilities like this
throughout the US.You got soccer over here,you got a weight lifting
facility here.
Regulation infield over here
for baseball being used,
batting cages over there,and we’re standing
on this tall gauntletwhich has climbing walls
and climbing ropes
and everything else,
what don’t you have in here? The facility’s amazing,
isn’t it?These kids come in here,they get mental toughness
training on this tower,
they get skills training
out in the infield.
They’re in the cages.There’re qualified,
well-trained coaches.
These kids are headed somewhere. FRANKEL:The Bo Dome,
as it’s known here
in Hilliard, Ohio, is part
of a booming business.
-According to one estimate,
spending on youth sports,
this year,
will top 17 billion dollars,with some families spending
10,000 dollars a year per kid,
or more.Some of these kids might spend
a 150, even 175 dollars an hour, to be
with a collegiate-level coach. They’re spending 175 dollars
an hour? If they want to be prepared
for college, many of these consumers
believe they need it. And that’s the sales pitch
to parents? The interesting thing
about a facility like this is there’s no sales pitch
necessary. Parents with means are clamoring
to put their kids in the very best
sports programs. There is no sales pitch. -This, with GB. Here we go.
-(WHISTLE BLOWS) FRANKEL:But there is a problem.The price of playing sports
has gotten so high,
that millions of kids
can’t keep up.
Researchers say
that over the last decade,
there’s been an 8 percent dropin the number
of American children
who play competitive sports.Eight percent in just a decade.For the first time
in American history,
youth sports has become
for the haves
and out of reach
for the have-nots.
Now, even those who’ve profited
from the trend,
like The Bo Dome’s Dev Pathik,think it’s time
to sound an alarm.
This gap between who gets
to play and who doesn’t is widening. We’re watching it
before our eyes. Those with means get to play,
get to travel, get to be on travel sports,
leagues and private clubs, and those who don’t have means,
don’t get to play. But we’ve long held the belief
that sports is for everyone. It’s no longer the case. Household income of less than
75,000 dollars a year is dramatically less likely
to play sport than a household income
of 100,000 dollars or more. I need money in order
to play something that I once had for free? It’s a massive change
in our society. FRANKEL: Years ago,
if a kid wanted to come out
and play basketball, -what would it cost them?
-It was free. If a kid wanted
to play volleyball or softball? Free. And if a kid wanted to join
the swimming team, -be part of a swim meet?
-Absolutely free. And today,
the idea of playing on a team that’s sponsored
by parks and recreation, participating in a tournament, does that opportunity exist
anymore? Those days have pretty much
gone away. FRANKEL:
Gary Bess has seen it happen
in his home city
of St. Louis, Missouri,
where he’s run public parks
and recreation departments
for 40 years.Bess says that public funds
have gotten so tight,
that half of the rec centers
in the city
have had to be shut down.While ones that are still open
are badly in need of repair.
It’s part of a nationwide trend,as cash-strapped communities,
accepting that youth sports
has become
a big-ticket private industry,
have cut back on providing free
or inexpensive sports programs
and facilities to the public.We have a two-tier system now. The system of people
who have money that can pay
for the travel sports, and we have a diminishing role of community recreation
that can’t compete. FRANKEL:This public park
in St. Louis County used to host
a thriving baseball league.
Today, it is abandoned.
It’s basically unusable. The dugouts don’t exist,
the fields overgrown, -Right.
-there’s no pitcher’s mound. -There’s no base–
-Jon, would you play here? Would you want your kids
to play here in this condition? -I’d probably let my dog
run around in here.
-Yeah. I guess what it boils down to
is sufficient revenue to maintain the system. We lost 12 million dollars
out of our budget. We lost 100 employees.
Something’s gotta give. FRANKEL:Back in Hilliard, Ohio,sports are thriving
like never before.
At least, inside the walls
of the Bo Dome,
with hundreds of kids spending
thousands of dollars each.
But outside these walls,
it’s a different story.
Corinna Tucker and her husband
moved to Hilliard
for the great school system
and the opportunities
the town offered
for their two daughters.
But after her husband
lost his job,
and the girls asked to join
a local soccer club,
the family found out just
how inaccessible youth sports
in Hilliard can be.There is a subliminal message
that this ain’t for everybody. It’s not. It’s just not. We might go to the same church,
we might go to the same school, but we don’t have–
everything is not the same, and that includes
the play field. -Your girls wanted soccer.
-Mm-hmm. -That was the thing that they…
-Yeah. -…really pointed out to you?
-Yes. -Could you afford it.
-Um, no. You’re looking at
about 1,200 dollars before you start doing
the actual travel. FRANKEL:The stigma of hardship
is why Corinna asked us
not to show her daughters’ faces
on television.
She says that when it comes
to most youth sports
in Hilliard, her family
is on the outside, looking in.
It’s Saturday morning.
We’re out in the car, and I’ve driving up, and I’m seeing
a large group of people.I mean, it’s packed.
And this is what happens.
“Hey, that’s my friend, Ava.
Hey, that’s my friend, Lindsay.
I know that’s her.
Why can’t I play? She’s playing.
She’s my friend, Mom.” That’s the difficult part. FRANKEL:
The disappointment was bitter,
but it got worse
as Corinna advanced in her job
as a sales manager
at a local hotel
and started working
with a new set of clients.
Yes, travel sports teams
coming to Hilliard
to play in youth tournaments.They call and they book with me and I negotiate the prices
and the rights. So you see all the money that’s
being spent on travel sports? -Mm-hmm.
-Do you see some irony here? There’s quite a bit of irony because you’re coming
to my town to come play and my kids can’t do it. My kids– I can’t afford
to do that. FRANKEL:The Tuckers are far
from the only ones
left on the outside here.So many children
can’t afford sports in Hilliard,
but just a few miles
from the Bo Dome,
we found a very different kind
of recreational program.
(OVERLAPPING CHATTER)A faith-based organization
for families in need.
It’s a sign of the times.For many kids today,their only chance to play sports
is charity.
Outside of your program, how much access
do these kids have to sports? Very, very little to none. FRANKEL:
Kim Emch started this program
when she realized
there were thousands of kids
in Hilliard who are underserved.At this local church
on a week night,
they get help
with their homework
and a much-needed chance
to run around.
Emch took us
to the parts of Hilliard
that children
she works with call home,
to show us
their open play space.
These are the conditions that
they’re having to contend with? -Right. Yeah.
-And if they can’t play here, -what are they left with?
-Yeah. They’re left
with their video game and their TV in their apartment
on their couch. And these same kids
who are living here are going to the elementary schools
or the middle schools in town with kids who have everything
and more. Right. Sorry, you guys,
this is making me sad. Yeah, it’s terrible because… they hear their friends
talking about that, and then they can’t be involved
at all. Even where they live, there isn’t a place to play
that’s safe. They don’t have
the same opportunities, and it changes
the trajectory of their life. FRANKEL:The problem stretches
far beyond Hilliard.
At least 25 million
school-age children in America
now live in homes classified by
the federal government
as low-income.That’s at least 25 million kidswho are being priced out
of sports.
Worse still, the one place
kids used to know
they’d get a chance to play
is often no longer providing it.
Thanks to budget cuts
in recent years
and an emphasis on test results
mandated by federal law,
schools around the US
have largely slashed
physical education
from their programs.
There are very few kids
in America who go to gym class during the day anymore. -Really?
-Really. It was the highlight of my day
to go to gym class. And you’re telling me
that most kids today in America are not doing that? Not only that,
can you imagine sitting in that chair
for eight hours, class after class,
without physically moving, without getting
some physical exercise? It’s not good for kids. FRANKEL:According to
the Centers for Disease Control,
less than four percent
of schools in the U.S.
require daily
physical education.
Even when schools do
have the money to offer
a wide variety of sports teams
for their students,
like here in Hilliard,many kids often decline
to participate,
discouraged by their inabilityto compete with
the privately taught kids.
Every year, our numbers dwindle
from eighth grade to ninth grade to tenth grade. A lower percentage of students
are participating in sports. Kids just simply
are dropping out? And I think
it’s probably that way in any high school
you would talk to. FRANKEL:Dr. John Marschhausen
is the superintendent
of the public school system
in Hilliard.
There comes a point
where the kids who played the elite club
are just head and shoulders in terms of skill and talent. They’ve been working on it
for 12 months a year, in some cases
since they were in fourth grade. Where does that leave the kid
that can’t afford to do that? Well, we see them
coming out to a point, and then when they see that this
isn’t going to be an option, they quit. This is an uncomfortable issue. For us as
a public school district to say we have kids who can’t compete
because of their socioeconomics. And yeah,
the opportunity is there, because they can try out, but because
they don’t have the skills, it’s not really there, it’s a false sense
of opportunity. Do you worry about the kid
who’s not in sports? Yeah, I worry about the kid who
might leave high school at 2:45 and has no structure
from 2:45 until 10 at night. What choices is that
young man or that woman making? Come on in, guys. FRANKEL:Education officials
aren’t the only ones
worried about how many
inactive kids there are today.
So is the medical community.At the Children’s Hospital
of Philadelphia,
doctors are so concerned about
the rise in childhood obesity
that they don’t just focus
on eating habits.
They are prescribing
another remedy
for their young patients:
INSTRUCTOR: Two, three, four… FRANKEL:The therapists here
have a simple goal.
Get the kids movingand more comfortable
in their bodies.
Because their future
depends on it.
Today, we’re at close
to 40 percent of our children are obese, overweight. They will have diabetes
and other health consequences that will cost all of us
a tremendous amount of money. This is a health crisis. FRANKEL:For Dev Pathik,who helped fuel the boom
in youth sports
and now sees the downside,
the stakes couldn’t be higher.
He sees a generation of kids
in the balance.
This crisis that we see
in terms of who’s getting access in this disparity, it will go on
for many, many years to come. We have to come up
with solutions now. Thanks for watching. Remember,
you can catch the rest of the latest edition
ofReal Sportsall month long on HBO. ♪ (THEME MUSIC PLAYS) ♪

The Price of Youth Sports (Full Segment) | Real Sports w/ Bryant Gumbel | HBO
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