Youth Sports Industry – A Growing Opportunity
October brings with it many wonderful happenings. The leaves are changing colors; kids, both young and old, are partaking in Halloween festivities; and sports are in the air. Baseball fans are enjoying the post-season with its play-offs and World Series match-ups; and football fans are gathering on weekends to root for their favorite teams. There are few things more American than fall baseball and football.
Professional sports is big business. Inspired by their idols in the big leagues, many kids hope to become the stars of tomorrow, and as a result the youth sports industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Kids have always participated in games and sports; however, the face of youth sports has changed greatly over the last decade or two. Gone are the days of pick-up ballgames in empty sandlots, two-on-two in the driveway, or playing hockey in the street with sticks and rocks. Youth sports have become a network of independent organizations, competitive regional leagues, travel teams and tournament play, with parents, coaches, league organizers, referees and tournament operators organizing both practices and competition.
The National Council of Youth Sports (NYCS), reports more than 60 million boys and girls are registered in programs across the country. The most recent data from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) estimates nearly 70% of children (age 6-17) in the U.S. are playing team sports and three out of four teenagers are playing at least one team sport. While there is much debate surrounding the direction youth sports have taken, there is no arguing that opportunities to score big are rampant for innovative entrepreneurs. The team travel segment of youth sports is estimated to be $7 billion alone. Local communities are benefactors of the economic activity generated by the growing travel team phenomenon as well.
The “travel team” stratum of youth sports in particular has exploded in the last twenty years.Travel teams grew out of recreational league play, as players, parents and coaches sought more and better venues in which to compete. The teams mushroomed in popularity as new leagues were formed to promote their play, tournaments proliferated to match the best against the best and large indoor facilities multiplied in suburban areas permitting year-round training and competition. (Fullinwider, 2006)
Many leagues are grassroots organizations formed and operated by parents through local schools, churches or other community outlets. However, that too is expanding with companies such as i9, a youth sports league franchise. Based in Tampa, Florida, i9 provides sports leagues, camps and clinics for children ages 3-17, including flag football, soccer, basketball, T-Ball and even cheerleading. The company’s tagline: “traditional kids sports leagues without the traditional headaches!”
Parents are often overwhelmed by the demands on their time, and for many, the option to pay a participation fee and let others run the show can be a welcome opportunity. It also removes parents from coaching and refereeing positions, which can be a source of tension for many.
Today’s parents are busier than ever because in most households both work. Additionally, we live in a world where all of our kid’s activities are scheduled and supervised. Parents are constantly looking for new activities to engage, educate, exercise, and entertain their kids. Today’s parent also demands great service, a great product, and great communication AND is willing to pay for it. Meanwhile, legacy youth sports leagues operate the same way they did twenty-five years ago. As in any industry today, there is room for an innovator. (Steve Cox, i9 Sports Franchise Owner)
Other opportunities to capitalize on the growing youth sports industry include:
- New and Used Equipment Stores
- as kids outgrow their equipment or change sports, there is plenty of used equipment deserving of a second wind
- Photography/Videography Services
- parents also enjoy capturing their kids’ big moments and team membership on film — weekend photographers can carve out a very lucrative niche taking team photos, individual portraits and live action shots
- Online Management Tools/Apps
- managing registrations, fees, scheduling, logistics, team stats, rosters, and even background checks for volunteers can be cumbersome, and innovate thinkers are providing powerful online tools to help grassroots organizations
- Local / Regional Sports Media Content Providers
- streaming video of local and regional games is becoming big business, especially in rural communities where high school sports teams often take on a bigger role in the absence of professional sports found in larger metro areas
Here is a great article highlighting some specific companies within these niches of the growing youth sports industry. Another group, The Sports & Education Expo, is planning to hold shows around the country to bring resources and information about youth sports to athletes, parents, coaches, directors and more. The first show is scheduled for Dec 13-15, 2013 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
For any current or prospective entrepreneurs interested in the youth sports industry, GeoMetrx can provide an in-depth location analysis including an understanding of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.