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Study: The more parents spend on youth sports, the less their kids enjoy them

Each of us learned about the economic principle known as the law of diminishing returns in school, but it seems a certain segment of society is learning its truth in a real-life situation in their own lives. According to a Utah State University study cited by the Wall Street Journal, the more parents spend on youth sports, the less their children enjoy them.

Sports psychologist Dr. Travis Dorsch, a Utah State professor and former Cincinnati Bengals kicker, conducted an online questionnaire asking parents how much of their total household income were spent on youth sports. The majority spent less than one percent, and only two percent of parents devoted more than five percent of their total income to their kids' athletic endeavors. But when researchers asked the children of those parents, they found that the more parents spent, the more pressure kids felt to perform and, in turn, enjoyed their time playing sports less. 

The logic is pretty clear. Parents that devoted a sizable chunk of their total resources expected a return on that investment in the form of playing time and trophies. They have more to lose than just a Saturday afternoon baseball game. Youth sports are a means to an end -a college scholarship, a professional career - instead of an opportunity for personal growth. Each of you reading this has a parent - or parents - you've encountered in mind right now.

Big Apple Youth Football president Courtney Phillips said that parents who sought out private coaching and the most expensive equipment "tend to be the same parents who are over-involved—yelling at the coaches and yelling at their own kids. I tell them to go home and not come back to practice." One study found that more than one out of eight tennis players - 13 percent - had been hit by their parents after matches. 

"The more parents spent, the more the kids seemed to feel the pressure of doing well for Mom and Dad," Dr. Dorsch said. 

Read the full article here.