Pay to Play or Sit to Save

Sondra can’t reasonably afford to participation for her two children to play baseball at the local recreation center. the problem is that the health promotion community is encouraging parents to emphasize physical activity  and healthy life styles but too often outlets for youth sports and activities are limited for low income families. Registration fees and organizing costs are contributing to an unequal  participation based on class and increased obesity rates.

When Sondra met with the Rec-center Director she was told that sport participation is a privilege and not a right. This is a valid point  considering the risk of injury in sport. Even though it is a privilege, we as a society have an obligation to improve social equality and overall health. It can be argued that future generations have more of a right to participation because of the increased threats of unhealthy or sedentary lifestyles in a technology and junk food saturated environment.

Allowing for more options for low-income families to work around financial constrains  can be an effective mode of improving participation equality. One option would be to explore multi-payment programs for  qualifying families. Families with more expendable income could be charged more, with the extra funds directed toward qualifying low income families. Volunteer time could also be offered to compensate for costs, but many single parents often cant spare enough time away form work.  Youth sports could also partner with other assistance programs utilized by some low income families.

A fall in youth sports participation for low income families contributes to more health disparities in the long run and more difficulties for families introducing their children to extracurricular activities in the short term. Communities should consider offering as many options to improve access to sports participation for those who arguably need it the most.

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