Today, August 4, at 8 am Eastern Time on ESPN‘s SportsCenter, an athlete announced his retirement. But there won’t be too many benefits accompanying such a retirement. In fact, this type of retirement really should not be happening and has been a growing problem across America.
The athlete is a kid. Not Jason Kidd, who is retired already, but a kid kid, a young kid who has decided to quit playing sports. The reason is not that he has already won enough championships or decided to pursue an acting career to be the next Rock, aka the Pebble. It’s because playing sports just hasn’t been fun for him.
The kid on the ESPN announcement isn’t real, meaning that it is a real kid actor playing a fictional character. But the problem is real. Throughout the country, kids are leaving sports way too early. What’s way too early? A survey conducted by the Aspen Institute along with the Utah State University Families in Sports Lab found that kids on average quit playing sports by age 11. That’s typically by the sixth grade, the start of middle school, before the “my parents are not cool” phase is supposed to happen. The ESPN announcement is part of the Aspen Institute’s Don’t Retire, Kid campaign, aimed at bringing more attention to the kid early retirement problem. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the U.S. Tennis Association and other members of Project Play 2020 (of which our GOPC/PHICOR team is a founding member) are also supporting this campaign.