Youth Sports is the Answer

Written by SFIA’s SVP of Government & Public Affairs, Bill Sells

During the pandemic, drug and alcohol-related deaths in the U.S. rose 20%. And there were more than 45,000 suicide deaths.

Youth mental health issues were especially alarming as children were denied the opportunity to play sports and realize all the social benefits of being a part of a team. A recent study found that kids who play team sports have 19% lower withdrawn/depression scores and 17% lower social problem scores. The National Institute for Health (NIH) reported there is a “strong rationale that physical activity could be a protective factor against substance abuse disorders.” The CDC found that “Students who did not meet aerobic physical activity guidelines were 35% more likely to have seriously considered suicide.”

Youth sports are the answer, but there are barriers to play.

Access to facilities continues to be an issue but is improving as states find creative ways to fund recreation projects. The other main barrier is costs!

The Aspen Institute recently reported that it costs more than $800 per sport, per child annually. This number is up from pre-pandemic figures and the financial barrier continues to rise.

There is hope for parents - the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act is legislation currently under consideration in Congress that will reduce parents’ youth sports costs by up to $750 a year.

PHIT is very simple. Families could use pre-tax dollars in existing medical accounts (HSAs, FSAs, MRAs, etc.) to pay for youth sports expenses. These accounts are currently used primarily for treatments once you become sick — PHIT would allow physical activity expenses to be paid from these accounts as a form of prevention. Parents get a 25–37% discount on activity expenses to stretch their youth sports budgets and avoid kids being sidelined due to cost.

PHIT is in the red zone. Congress needs to hear from parents now to make PHIT a reality and provide families with relief on activity costs.

If you want to save money on youth sports, please send a message to Congress today using this link.

It is very easy — plug in your name and address select the tweet (or e-mail message) and hit send. Your message will be automatically delivered to your Representatives in Washington.

If you are a parent and would like more information, click here to view a brief recording from a recent youth sports PHIT webinar (passcode: passcode 6pF^Dif^).

Now is the time to be heard. We need to work as a team and get PHIT across the goal line.



Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA)

SFIA is the leading global trade association in the sports & fitness industry. SFIA is the #1 source for sport & fitness research. More info at