In TIME’s cover story this week, sports writer Sean Gregory explores the growing business of kids’ sports — a $15.3 billion industry that has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. Between league fees, camps, equipment, training and travel, families are spending as much as 10% of their income on sports, according to survey research from Utah State University.
Sky-high costs are preventing some kids from participating. Overall sports participation rates have declined in the U.S. in recent years, and the trend is most evident among kids from lower-income families.
“Some parents just can’t pony up for it,” says Travis Dorsch, one of Utah State’s leading researchers on parental involvement in youth sports. “How many Michael Jordans and Michael Phelpses are out there who don’t have the opportunity?”
One of Utah State’s surveys conducted last year found that the average family spends $2,292 per year on sports. The respondents to