One in four parents has pro dreams for their child, survey says
Despite the overwhelming odds, 26 percent of parents whose high school aged child plays sports hope their youngster will become a professional athlete, according to a new survey – Sports and Health in America – conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
And those parental views vary by socioeconomic status.
Of parents with household incomes of less than $50,000 a year, 39 percent said they hope their child will become a professional athlete; while parents with household incomes of $50,000 or more a year 20 percent had professional hopes for their young athlete.
In addition, 44 percent of parents with less education (graduated high school or less) with a high school aged child playing sports hope their child will become a professional athlete; while of parents who graduated college only 9 percent harbored professional hopes for their son or daughter.
The following are some additional youth sports-related findings:
►Parents of middle school or high school aged children report that most boys and girls (76% and 70%) currently play sports.
►The top five sports played by boys most often (including ties) are basketball, soccer, football, baseball/softball, swimming, and running or track.
►The top five sports played by girls most often are basketball, baseball/softball, volleyball, soccer, and running or track.
►Most parents of children in middle or high school (76%) say they encourage their child to play sports.
►When parents were asked about problems that make it difficult for their child to continue participating in sports, 32% who are less well-off (household incomes less than $50,000/year) say that sports cost too much; while 16% of parents who are more well-off (household incomes $50,000/year or more) say that sports cost too much.
►Compared to the sports adults aged 30 and older played when they were younger and still in school, more children play soccer (14% now vs. 6% in the past), and fewer children play baseball or softball (11% now vs. 17% in the past).
►The majority of parents (72%) whose child plays sports say it is very likely or somewhat likely that their child will continue playing or participating in sports when he/she becomes an adult, while only 12% say it is not at all likely their child will continue playing.
►Most parents of children in middle or high school (76%) say they encourage their child to play sports. Only 1% of parents discourage their child from playing sports, and 22% say they don’t express a preference.
►89% of parents whose middle school or high school aged child plays sports say that their child benefits a great deal or quite a bit from participating in sports.
►Among parents whose child plays sports, 37% say they have played or participated in sports with their child in the past year.
►When parents were asked about the benefits that their middle school or high school aged child gets from playing sports, more than eight in ten say their child benefits a great deal or quite a bit in the following ways: physical health (88%), it gives him/her something to do (83%), or it helps him/her learn about discipline or dedication (81%).
►More than seven in ten parents say that playing sports benefits their child a great deal or quite a bit in learning how to get along with other people (78%) and his/her mental health (73%).
►More than half of parents report playing sports benefits their child a great deal or quite a bit in his/her social life (65%), giving him/her skills to help in future schooling (56%), and giving him/her skills to help in a future career (55%).
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