Market To Market: Youth Sports
Come Out And Play
With more than 36 million kids between the ages of five and 14 suiting up, youth sports is a $15 billion industry in the U.S. Much of the revenue is attributed to the cost of equipment, uniforms, travel and registration fees. But the landscape of youth sports is increasingly showing disparities between families who can afford the high cost of sports and those who cannot.
While almost 45 percent of children ages six to 12 participated in a team sport in 2008, now only 37 percent are actively playing on organized teams, according to the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit group whose Project Play initiative seeks to help increase access to quality sports activities for all youth.
Additionally, the pursuit of college scholarships has pushed competitive play ahead of recreational play, leaving traditional teams searching for players who are in it for the fun and camaraderie, rather than the wins.
Between 2008 and 2015, the four sports that saw the largest declines in participation were basketball, soccer, baseball and tackle football. Conversely, the sports that saw the biggest gains in participation over this time period were gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse and field hockey.
Core Participation In Team Sports, 2015 (Children ages six to 12)
Outdoor soccer................ 8.9%
Tackle football................. 3.3%
Flag football.................... 2.6%
Indoor volleyball.............. 2.5%
Ice hockey....................... 1.1%
Track and field...................1%
Getting In On The Ground Floor
Many communities offer youth sports through their city’s recreation departments, or through organizations such as the Y and Boys and Girls Clubs. Reach out to department directors for guidance on buying or bidding practices, as well as for information on coaches and others affiliated with team management. In addition to providing products as a partner, distributors can also choose to sponsor recreational leagues.
Private organizations such as youth sports associations and competitive leagues also rely on sponsors to help defray administrative and other costs. These groups can either be staffed by volunteers or managed by paid staff at sports training centers and private clubs.
• National Alliance for Youth Sports
• National Council of Youth Sports
• American Sport Education Program
• Institute for Sport Coaching
• North American Youth Sports Institute
Hit a grand slam with this twist-off baseball pen, which is refillable and handcrafted from select maple wood.
Aspenline / PPAI 438893/ www.aspenline.com
Refresh players with a 25-ounce water bottle that features a twist-on lid and carabiner for easy carrying. Personalize the bottle with a color decoration.
ADG Promotional Products/ PPAI 111475 / www.adgpromo.com
Young athletes will be thrilled to wear this patented Storm XL LED wristband to show off their team pride. The Storm XL comes in five LED options and offers space to pad print or lightning precision engrave for customization.
Strike Promo / PPAI 667009/ www.strikepromo.com
Get a leg up on team spirit with white tube socks that can show
off a full-color imprint. Stick with one design or choose two—one
for each side. The heel-less crew tube design means one size fits
most, and they are machine washable in cold water.
Beacon Promotions / PPAI 113702 / www.beaconpromotions.com
This fully reversible, U.S.-made jersey with contrast-color inserts is made from two layers of 100-percent polyester MVPdri fabric, which wicks moisture away from the body. The jersey features a self-fabric V-neck collar and contrast-color side panels. The double-needle hem of each layer is finished separately to allow for embellishment.
MVP Sportswear / PPAI 562092/ www.mvpsportswear.com
Discover a colorful way to teach health and fitness with the Fitness Is Fun coloring book. Kids learn that there are lots of ways to get fit, stay healthy and have fun with fitness. These customizable 20-page books help kids interact and learn about a variety of educational themes, and they come in English and Spanish.
Fields Manufacturing / PPAI 111951/ www.fieldsmfg.com
Gift passionate players The Football Fanbook: Everything You Need to Become a Gridiron Know-it-All (A Sports Illustrated Kids Book). The 192-page hardcover book is a key addition to every young sports fanatic’s library, with fun trivia and unique lingo to impress friends, illustrated behind-the-skills how-tos, important game-winning strategies and more.
The Book Company / PPAI 218850 / www.thebookco.com
Amp up players and families with the teemoji, an augmented-reality t-shirt. The custom print on the t-shirt and its accompanying mobile app transform the image into custom 3D emojis that can be shared as photos and videos.
Aiia Limited / PPAI 624878/ www.enjoy-aiia.com
Snack breaks are handled with ease on the patented portable scrimmage table, which is made of sturdy 600 denier polyester and measures 30 inches in diameter. The exclusive design stand extends from 24 inches to a full 36-inch standing height. Four recessed mesh pockets keep beverages handy and leave extra room for food and dining. The table comes with a matching carrying case for easy transporting. Imprint on the table top and the bag, and choose from eight team colors.
Picnic Plus / PPAI 240870/ www.picnicpromo.com
Experience superior printability on the smooth surface of the Fruit of the Loom® HD Cotton Youth T-Shirt. Made from 100-percent, pre-shrunk jersey cotton with a 50-percent tighter stitch density, the shirt features a tearaway label, double-needle hemmed sleeves and bottom, and shoulder-to-shoulder taping. Choose from several colors including red, white, Navy blue, black, reflex blue, gray heather, dark gray, gray charcoal and gray ash.
Prime Line® / PPAI 112744 / www.primeline.com
Players can flex for the other team in full-color compression arm sleeves featuring a full-color imprint, available on two sides, with the option for two different designs in photographic duplication, halftones or gradients.
Suntex Industries / PPAI 113094 / www.mainstsun.com
This clever, quirky bungee chair with a beverage pocket and large imprint area is ergonomically designed to provide support and comfort, and the easy-fold system makes it simple to carry and store.
AAA Innovations / PPAI 1110972/ www.aaainnovations.com
Teams can display their logos in vibrant colors on the field at games, special events and tournaments with the ACE Banner frame system. Choose from four-foot or eight-foot frames, and add one or two banners. The frames are easy to assemble and come with a quality carrying bag for convenient storage and transporting.
National Banner Company, Inc. / PPAI 114008/ www.nationalbanner.com
Case studies from the industry
A high school wanted to purchase items they could resell to parents and fans to raise funds for the sports teams. Folding chairs were a great choice since buyers could use them for seating during the games, as well as for numerous other recreational activities. The chairs were sold in the spirit shop, which was open during the sporting events to parents, students and fans. They were such a hit that the spirit shop sold out during the first week of school and has since reordered several times.
Hit Promotional Products
Remembering The Good Times
In 2013, members of Jenks Silver, a youth league football team, completed their fifth and final year together. Although the team never quite won it all, they had a lot of success by making the playoffs every year and playing in the finals twice. The team members’ parents wanted to commemorate the team’s time together with something players could keep forever, so they bought each a custom medallion watch with a Jenks Silver dial and each player’s name and number engraved on the case back. The coaches all received a watch in appreciation for the time they put in helping the kids to develop their football and competitive skills. Three years later, another Jenks Silver team hit its seventh-grade year with similar success. Many of the same parents had children on this team and they knew without discussion what the players’ and coaches’ gifts would be. The custom watches were presented at the end of the season party.
Selco Watch Company