“With more sports to play and more ways to follow, youth sports are coming out of the pandemic with a strong growth potential. Teens are connected to their teams, athletes and brands in deeper ways than ever before. They are eager to return to play, but the field-of-play has evolved.”
– Noah Lasutschinkow, Research Analyst – Technology and Media

This Report looks at the following areas

  • The market for youth sports in the US
  • Key factors impacting teen and tween sports
  • Opportunities and challenges for brands and leagues to reach young players and fans
  • The sports teens and tweens follow and play
  • How demographics impact sports preferences
  • Ways to engage teen and tween sports fans and methods they use to follow sports
  • Teen and tween perceptions of the benefits of sports

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Market overview
                  • Figure 1: Youth sports outlook – Participation and fan following, 2022-27
                • Opportunities
                  • Put health in focus – It’s a priority for both kids and parents
                    • Don’t fight it – Leverage kids’ social media second screen habits to deepen engagement
                      • The future is now – Digital content is in demand
                        • Girls, girls, girls! Increase exposure to women’s pro sports, extend access to girl athletes
                          • Equality for girls in sports is only just at the beginning
                            • Challenges
                              • Health and safety concerns remain – Some parents need convincing
                                • Costs are rising and youth sports can be expensive – They may be out of reach for some
                                  • Increased competition for time – Sports isn’t at the top of teens’ and tweens’ priority lists
                                    • Key consumer insights
                                    • Market Value Indicators

                                      • Youth sports’ market value similar to movie industry, theme parks
                                        • Parents need solutions to combat negative mental health impact
                                          • More play now may equal more fans in the future
                                            • Figure 2: Sports following and participation, by sport, 2022
                                          • Fewer sports played but increasing participation points to specialization
                                            • Figure 3: Total sports participation rates among teens aged 13-17, 2012-22
                                          • Sporting goods retail experienced sharp pandemic-induced growth
                                            • Figure 4: Total US revenues and fan chart forecast of sporting goods stores, at current prices, 2016-26
                                        • Teens & Tweens by the Numbers

                                          • A declining teen and tween population
                                            • Figure 5: US population of teens and tweens age 10-17, 2017-27
                                          • More multicultural teens and tweens will shift youth sport priorities
                                            • Figure 6: US population share of teens and tweens age 10-17, by age and race/Hispanic origin, 2021
                                        • Factors Impacting Teen & Tween Sports

                                          • Sports betting boom could offer support for youth sports
                                            • NCAA rule change allows youth athletes to make a profit
                                              • Professional play starts now
                                                • Youth sports continues to evolve, but history repeats itself
                                                • Perspectives on Play

                                                  • Teens feel that they’re healthy but also feel being healthy is a top priority
                                                    • Figure 7: Children’s health status since start of pandemic, 2021
                                                  • After-school activities
                                                    • Figure 8: Ideal after-school activities, 2022
                                                • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                                                  • NFL finds repeat success in partnerships aimed at reaching kids
                                                    • Nickelodeon brings the slime to the wild card games
                                                      • Figure 9: Nickelodeon’s NFL broadcast, 2022
                                                    • Twitch streamers live stream along with NFL
                                                      • Kids signing deals now challenges amateur sports
                                                        • Safety is a concern among parents and it goes beyond on-the-field
                                                        • Teen & Tween Athletes and Sports Fans – Fast Facts

                                                          • Equal exposure leads to greater female following
                                                            • Tailored content can pique greater interest in sports
                                                              • Rising costs create a bigger barrier for young athletes
                                                                • Preparing for the future pulls teens from sports
                                                                  • Digital is the future of fan following
                                                                    • Fandom is part of teen and tween fans’ identity and evolves with age
                                                                    • Teen & Tween Sports Fans

                                                                      • Equal exposure connects greater female following
                                                                        • Figure 10: Sports fandom, by sport, by gender, 2022
                                                                      • Lower incidence of fan following could be an issue for leagues in the future
                                                                        • Figure 11: Sports fandom, by sport, by age, 2022
                                                                      • Strong fandom among Hispanic tweens and teens needs to be nurtured
                                                                        • Figure 12: Sports fandom, by sport, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                      • Higher household income translates to greater instance of fan following
                                                                        • Figure 13: Sports fandom, by sport, by household income, 2022
                                                                      • Pro leagues can aid and encourage participation to drive fandom
                                                                        • Figure 14: Reasons for sports fandom, 2022
                                                                      • General lack of interest is top reason not to follow sports
                                                                        • Figure 15: Reasons against sports fandom, 2022
                                                                    • Teen & Tween Athletes

                                                                      • At least three quarters participate in youth sports
                                                                          • Figure 16: Sports participation, by sport, by organized and nonorganized sports, 2022
                                                                        • Boys are more organized, at least in youth sports
                                                                          • Figure 17: Organized sports participation, by sport, by gender, 2022
                                                                        • Rising costs create a barrier for lower-income youth athletes
                                                                          • Figure 18: Organized sports participation, by sport, by household income, 2022
                                                                        • Older teens’ preparation for the future can detract from athletics
                                                                          • Figure 19: Organized sports participation, by sport, by age, 2022
                                                                        • Black teens and tweens have lower participation rates
                                                                          • Figure 20: Organized sports participation, by sport, by race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                        • Sports need to stay fun
                                                                          • Figure 21: Nike Korea’s “Playground for all,” 2022
                                                                          • Figure 22: Nonorganized sports participation, by sport, by gender, 2022
                                                                          • Figure 23: Nonorganized sports participation, by sport, by race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                        • Reasons for playing sports
                                                                          • Winning isn’t everything when kids are having fun
                                                                            • Organized youth sports develop competition for the next level
                                                                              • Figure 24: Reasons for playing sports, by age, 2022
                                                                          • Following the Action

                                                                            • Digital is the following of the future
                                                                              • Figure 25: Methods for following sports, by teens & tweens vs adults, 2022
                                                                            • Creator content can attract
                                                                              • Figure 26: Methods for following sports, by gender, 2022
                                                                            • Social media is critical, use it to engage fans during the competition
                                                                              • Figure 27: Social media to follow sports/sports influencers, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                            • The next generation wants shareable content
                                                                              • Figure 28: Methods for following sports, by age, 2022
                                                                          • The Essence of Youth Fandom

                                                                            • Fandom gives identity, but evolves with age
                                                                              • Figure 29: Importance of sports, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                            • Teens and tweens are content hungry
                                                                              • Figure 30: Sponsorship awareness and extra content, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                            • Teens want to show support for their team anytime
                                                                              • Figure 31: Wearing sports merchandise, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                            • Teens and tweens are loyal to the athletes who show their personality
                                                                              • Figure 32: Team loyalty transfer based on favorite player, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                            • Teens want newness but the price is high
                                                                              • Figure 33: Sports equipment and brands/logos on equipment, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                            • Sports video gaming creates strong fandom
                                                                              • Figure 34: Play sports video or fantasy sports, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                          • The Benefits of Youth Sports Participation

                                                                            • No need to convince youth athletes on the physical, mental health benefits
                                                                              • Figure 35: Health benefits of playing sports, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                            • Beyond physical activity, other benefits help teens prepare for the future
                                                                              • Figure 36: Social and educational benefits of playing sports, by gender, age and race/Hispanic origin, 2022
                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                            • Data sources
                                                                              • Sales data
                                                                                • Consumer survey data
                                                                                  • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                    • Abbreviations

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