New Program To Prevent Drop-Outs In Youth Sports

Jul 13, 2015

A professor at Utah State University is using his degrees in family and human development and health and wellness to combine his expertise in an effort to find ways to reduce the drop-out rate among children who participate in sports.  

Dr. Travis Dorsch said seven out of 10 children who participate in sports are dropping out of community and competitive clubs by the time they are 13 years old. Through the Families and Sport Lab in the Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development at Utah State University, Dorsch has created a series of training programs to help parents work with their children, coaches and administrators.

"All of those things that we think are natural by-products of sport are actually not,” Dorsch said. “Sports is not a black box that we drop these kids into and out come these beautiful individuals and people."

Involvement in sports has been linked to healthier eating; a lower likelihood of school dropout; lower rates of cigarette, alcohol and marijuana use; and lower rates of suicide and depression. 

Working with USU graduate students, Dorsch is studying the role of youth sport participation on family relationships and family interaction to create the program that includes training on ways to motivate youth when they realize the limited opportunities available to them in the college and professional sports. Finding other reasons for youth to enjoy a sport should include their feelings of accomplishment, friendships, and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, Dorsch said. 

"It's all about the climates that we are creating," He said. "It is really targeting those parents so they can help coaches and administrators create those positive sport climates."

After working with and training a group of Cache Valley parents Dorsch will begin working on a training program that will be recorded and made available to the public through the internet. On Thursday, July 16, at the Edith Bowen Elementary Auditorium a production crew will record Dorsch presenting his evidence-based program for national and international distribution.

"Does this actually have the same kind of impact as we saw here in Utah?" Dorsch said. "Does it have the same impact across the United States and potentially internationally? I think this is very culturally sensitive. Parents in Utah might not be the same as parents across the United States and for sure across the world."

The public is invited to participate in the sport-parent night and recording of the training program.