Kids Favor Club Sports Over Recreational Sports

Ashley Logan

clubeffectonrecsportsAs kids get older, recreational sports teams like Orinda Youth Association (OYA) begin to thin out in number as their participants either quit or switch to a club team.

Athletes that want to push themselves and play their sport more intensely tend to join a club team. At a higher level compared to recreational leagues, these teams are conducive to more games, club tournaments, practices, and are more competitive overall. To make the team, most clubs require an intense tryout and only accept those who they think are the most dedicated, skilled, and confident.

Kids that play for a club can often grow tired of their sport and don’t want to be in such an intense environment. When asked why she stopped playing club volleyball, Zoe Schneider ‘16 said, “It was ridiculously time-consuming and it was hard to manage school and a social life.”

Recreational teams give children the opportunity to compete in sports that aren’t as intense and don’t require as much commitment as club sports. Recreational teams typically don’t require as much skill and are open to anyone interested in the sport. The coaches are usually volunteer parents, rather than the hired club coaches.

“I liked playing for a rec team, because it wasn’t  too  competitive  and  it  was  a  really  enjoyable  social  outlet  paired  with  a  chance  to  get  some  exercise,” Carolyn Brager ‘16, former participant in OYA soccer, said.

While it’s great that some athletes choose to pursue their sport by joining a club team, it negatively impacts the rec teams that lose a lot of sign-ups. The kids that want to play sports for fun may lose that option as more and more athletes join club teams.

When so many athletes choose to play more competitively, other people feel pressured to join club teams as well. This pressure on kids and parents can lead them to switch to more competitive teams.

As kids reach high school, most recreational sports die out, leaving no option for athletes who want to play on a low-key team. They are left with two choices: try out for a club team or decide not to play at all.