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“Hey, Data Data –Swing!” The Hidden Demographics of Youth Sports

Competitive Youth Sports may be as American as apple pie, but we know a lot less about youth sports than we do about apple pie. The problem is that while the FDA takes responsibility for knowing everything about our food (as the EPA does with the environment and a group called ARDA does with religious life), no one agency or organization monitors youth sports either as a central part of American childhood or as an industry. (And it is an industry. The Columbus Dispatch reviewed tax returns in 2009 and found that nonprofit sports groups alone, from the AAU to the thousands of cash-strapped parent-run community leagues, have $5 billion a year pass through their coffers.) So we are left with a Wild West of local and regional organizations in dozens of sports and no better odds of getting pinpoint data than of counting all the tumbleweeds blowing across the land.