The demise of organized sports

Skateboarding used to be a counter-culture sport. In fact, towns across America ban skateboarders because they ruin public property, but also because who wants crowds of young boys at high speeds in an area where people are supposed to feel secure and happy and spending their money?

Bur today there are skateboarding overnight camps in middle America touting good old values like hard work and safe play.

The X Games have brought respectability to sports that are solo, not structured, and not sanctioned by schools. And as Generation X has gained control of city governments, skate parks have popped up in cities all over the US. As Gen X started controlling the spending for ski resorts, snowboarding became a standard offering, and some sports, like doubles-beach volleyball, has even edged it’s way into the Olympics.

At the same time, Generation Z is poised to be independent, counter-culture, and non-hierarchicalall the things that Generation Y is not. It makes sense: Baby boomers raised Gen Y to compete on teams and always be a winner. Generation X is raising Generation Z to be their own person, ignore the flow, and do what feels right.

The result will be that organized sports will look old-fashioned and boring. We will celebrate the athletes who are self-directed, independent and operate independently of an organized team.

I have read a lot of research about sports and women. Women earn more money if they play sports as girls. There are other benefits that come from sports, of course (body image, leadership, self-confidence), but they all roll into making more money—that is a quantifiable, easily understood result.

But I think that might be generational—that’s Title IX data that assumes that women have to smash through institutional barriers to get to high earning positions. Which today, they do not.

And there’s interesting research from sports psychologists that shows that the things kids love about sports actually have very little to do with the team part. Kids like friends and fun. And it makes sense to me that Generation Z will find that through solitary, unorganized sports.

4 replies
  1. Nowgirl
    Nowgirl says:

    “Demise” is a strong word. Football isn’t going away. Soccer and basketball aren’t going away. They’re just going to lose market share. Which is still a big deal.

    A mighty big segment of Z is being raised by Xers who are virtually indistinguishable from boomers in their lifestyle and outlook. You might call them failed Xers. The distrust of institutions didn’t take with them.

    Also, I think your kids have charming hair.

  2. karelys
    karelys says:

    I, too, thought demise was too strong of a word. Until I figured how strong of an influence one generation can have to change how things are done.

    in two generations football could very realistically be a thing that only pockets of population do but not all. and in america, the increase of immigrants adds to that much more.

  3. MoniqueWS
    MoniqueWS says:

    I don’t know … my kids swim on a club swim team. It is very much an individual sport with the team/friends aspect. Girl child is taking up junior roller derby too. It is a team sport and a little quirky and lots of fun.

  4. monkey12
    monkey12 says:

    It’s lovely that your children have found sports that they enjoy and that those sports are solitary is fine as well. But why should what your children like be the guide for what ALL children like and what is good and healthy for all children. Why dismiss the value of team sports for women so offhandedly? Also- check your facts, women still have some major barriers in the professional world including the fact that women continue to make less than men for the same job. Why is your tone so authoritarian? Couldn’t you simply point out that for YOUR children the path of solitary sports is preferred without disparaging team sports? I.e. why is it so difficult for you to make your point without attacking someone else’s? I would find quite a bit of what you say more palatable and interesting if the tone changed.

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