Wanna play catch?
With the longer days and warmer weather, lots of kids around Washington are asking that question. It used to be that they would grab their baseball gloves. Now, more kids are grabbing lacrosse sticks to play catch.
Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in America. But don’t take my word for it. I spoke to Tom Cove, the president of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) in Silver Spring.
The SFIA is a group of more than 750 businesses, including Nike, Adidas and Russell Athletic, that make and sell sports equipment. Cove and the SFIA keep a close eye on how many people are playing sports. After all, those folks are not just athletes; they’re also customers.
Sports are a big deal for kids. Cove says that between 60 million and 70 million kids play organized sports in America. And lacrosse is a new favorite.
According to a 2012 study done by the SFIA and other business associations, participation in lacrosse went up between 2007 and 2011, soaring more than 29 percent in the last two years of the study.
Other sports are on the upswing, too. Ice hockey, field hockey and ultimate Frisbee have become more popular in the past couple of years. Gymnastics has also had a big jump. Cove says that usually happens after the Summer Olympics, where gymnastics competitions are a big deal.
Not every sport is growing. Wrestling is way down. The number of kids playing football, baseball and volleyball is going down, but more slowly. The popularity of soccer and basketball has leveled off. And, according to the 2012 study, kids are not skateboarding as much as they used to.
Of course, most kids don’t care which sport is popular. The most important sport is the one or two or three you like to play. I think it’s great that there are lots of different sports for kids to choose from.
If kids don’t like the most popular sports — basketball, baseball, soccer and football — they can play tennis or lacrosse or go swimming.
It’s important for kids to do something active. Physical education at school is valuable, too. The 2012 study shows that kids who participated in PE are much more likely to play sports and be active when they grow up.
So, run out and play catch. With a baseball or football or Frisbee or lacrosse ball.
Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 19 books for kids about baseball, basketball, football and soccer. His latest book is “Perfect Game.”