Boston Youth Sports Scan

November 12, 2010

Wheelock College today released the Boston Youth Sports Scan at a networking roundtable sponsored by the Boston Youth Sports Initiative and Boston After School and Beyond. The scan examines the sports opportunities that are available to the more than 75,000 youth who live in Boston.

Top-line findings show that opportunities vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood, there are more programs for boys than girls, and basketball and soccer are the two most frequently offered sports across Boston neighborhoods.

In recent years several reports looking at youth sport participation and access recommended new initiatives to improve communication between programs across the city and increase participation opportunities for girls. The Boston Youth Sports Initiative (BYSI) helped turn these recommendations into reality by funding the scan.

To continue this important work, BYSI (a strategic initiative of Boston After School & Beyond), and Wheelock College have partnered to create a comprehensive, specific, quantifiable report on the state of youth sports programming opportunities in Boston.

"The report serves as both a reference for those operating existing programs in youth sport, and for those hoping to increase access to youth sport by expanding existing programs or developing additional programs in underserved neighborhoods," said Diana Cutaia, director of Sport Based Initiatives at Wheelock College. "It fits well with Wheelock's ongoing mission of improving the lives of children and families."

In October 2009, researchers at Wheelock College began collecting data to explore, identify and catalog sport programs in order to quantify subjective and anecdotal accounts of sport program offerings and gaps in sport programming. The data collection included three phases. Initial data was collected through the use of various Internet tools, existing databases from other institutions, emails, and telephone calls to youth sport administrators, coaches, and other stakeholders in Boston youth sports. Next, direct contact with youth sports providers was provided through BYSI's extensive network of youth sports. Finally, Good Sports Inc., a non-profit organization that provides equipment grants for youth sport programs, supplied average team sizes for all sports included on the environmental scan when a program administrator did not report the information.

Key findings included the following:

 

  • There are 172 organizations, schools, and centers running 1,030 programs.
  • Opportunities for youth are spread across these programs in the following way:
    • 44% of programs are School-based
    • 33% of programs are Recreation
    • 16% are Center-based
    • 8 % are Sports Plus programs
  • Program opportunities vary in the city.
  • Programming for youth sports most often begins at age five, and programs steadily increase within and across sports until age 11, decrease gradually between ages 11 and 13, and increase again dramatically with the onset of high school programming.
  • At every age and within each neighborhood, there are more sport programs for boys than there are for girls. Of the total 1030 programs, 574 (56%) are for boys and 456 (44%) are for girls.
  • Sports Plus programs are the most gender equitable.
  • School-based (BPS) offers the most opportunities.
  • Basketball and soccer are the two most frequently offered sports across Boston neighborhoods. Basketball, football, and baseball offer the most consistent youth sport pathways, while golf, cross-country, and volleyball offer brief and belated pathways.
  • Basketball and soccer are the two most frequently offered sports across Boston neighborhoods. Basketball, football, and baseball offer the most consistent youth sport pathways, while golf, cross-country, and volleyball offer brief and belated pathways.

Chris Lynch, the director of the BYSI, explained that by seeing "... where programming exists, and what gaps exist in the city, BYSI believes that better strategic decisions can be formulated."

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