A sporting community

Canadians are participating in sports in increasingly smaller numbers than the previous two decades.

Canadians are participating in sports in increasingly smaller numbers than the previous two decades.

Two fairly recent studies show that Canadians are participating in organized sports in dwindling numbers.

A 2005 Statistics Canada study found that 51 percent of children between the ages of 5-14 participated in organized sports in the previous year, and were active a total of 2.6 times per week during the sports season of their choice.

This is compared to 57 per cent of children participated in sports in 1992.

In an age where eating healthy and regularly exercising have become pressing issues, these numbers are concerning.

But why are kids participating in sports less than before.

One glaring issue, and perhaps the biggest factor in sport participation is the amount of money in costs to play organized sports today.

This same study found that in 2005, of the children the participated in sports, their parents could expect to spend on average $579 a year, a number that certainly has gone up in the almost nine years since.

As well, it found that families, whose income would classify them as middle to upper class in terms of family income were more likely, 56 per cent for middle class and 68 per cent for highest income families, to have children participating in organized sports.

While many consider hockey to be Canada’s national game, it should come as no surprise that it does not have the highest number of children participating.

Speaking from experience, hockey equipment is expensive, a pair of skates can go for as much as $1000, and the composite sticks that are popular today can go for as much as $300.

And there still is all the other protective equipment to buy, shin pads, elbow pads, as well as money for registration, ice time, season fees, travel fees and tournament fees if the team your child plays on goes to a tournament or two.

In total, parents of a hockey player can expect to spend thousands of dollars a year so their child can play, a not so insignificant investment.

There are programs out there to offset, and help with the costs of playing organized sports.

Chevrolet Safe and Fun Hockey has a program where they distribute helmets to 5-year-old kids who are playing hockey for the first time in the upcoming season.

Parents only have to fill out an application to be eligible.

Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program is another program that helps with the costs of playing sports.

This program helps children aged 4-18 with the costs associated with registration, equipment and transportation.

At this point they have help enrol children in 73 different sports, from hockey to soccer to mix martial arts.

A more recent study, in 2010, found that participation in active leisure activities have actually increased, from 22 per cent in 1992 to 26 per cent in 2010.

The study defined active leisure activities as cycling, sports (hockey, soccer), exercise (weightlifting, yoga) and jogging.

As far as Burns Lake goes the participation and support I have seen so far for sports is impressive.

The excitement for the mountain bike trails opening, to the LDSS rugby team’s inaugural season, to participation in soccer, hockey, ball hockey and all other sports is great.

The success of these teams is not only something the players can take pride in, but the entire community as well.