Home Child Development Quitting Sports at 13: What Do You Think?

Quitting Sports at 13: What Do You Think?

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A driving force of SportsWise is to support and encourage healthy and lasting sport experiences for our youth. This recent article in the Washington Post, “Why 70 percent of kids quit sports by age 13” highlights just how hard and complicated this goal has become. High dropout rates, rising costs for youth sports, and the pressure to specialize earlier are a few key factors mentioned that morph youth sports into a job, as opposed to a valuable learning opportunity for our children. And perhaps what’s most heartbreaking is that so many kids say they’re quitting sports because at a certain point, they’re just not fun anymore.

Quitting Sports at an Early Age

What is of particular concern is the age at which kids are quitting sports. If our children are dropping out of sports at greater rates by the age of 13, what are they doing in the afternoon? We know from research that the hours between 2 and 6 pm are a potentially dangerous window of time for unsupervised adolescents. Substance abuse and premature sexual activity represent a few of the increased risk factors that worry many of us parents. Finding sustainable physical activity opportunities for our older children becomes even more paramount as their opportunities to find a good fit decrease.

We are looking for ways to combat these challenges, and we need your help.
What programs are available for older adolescents in your town?
How are families and communities managing these challenges?
What do you think we should do about the youth sports dropout rate?
How could we make sports more fun for those kids who just want to play?

Given the complexity of this issue, we need to come together to tackle these problems. We don’t have all the answers, so we want to hear from you. Please tell us what you think by leaving a comment.

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Dr. Richard Ginsburg
Dr. Richard D. Ginsburg is a clinical psychologist and sport psychology consultant. He is co-director of the Massachusetts General Hospital PACES Institute of Sport Psychology and is an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Ginsburg also serves as staff psychologist in the Newton Wellesley Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department and is the director of Behavioral Health for the Boston Red Sox. Dr. Ginsburg offers a broad range of clinical services to children, adolescents and adults and conducts youth and professional sport research. He is author of the book, Whose Game Is It, Anyway, A guide to helping your child get the most from sports, organized by age and stage and has served as a sport psychology consultant for a variety of professional and college-level sports teams, including lacrosse, soccer, water polo and ice hockey at Harvard University. He is a member of the US Lacrosse Safety and Science Committee and provides talks and consultations nationally to youth, high school, and collegiate athletic programs. Dr. Ginsburg played lacrosse and soccer at Kenyon College, where he won all-conference and all-Midwest honors. He is also a former independent school teacher and coach. He lives with his wife, Teri, and their two children in Newton, Massachusetts.