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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The average child today spends less than three years playing a sport and quits by age 11, according to a new survey of sports parents conducted by the Aspen Institute and Utah State University.

Why it matters: For parents who see the benefits of their kids playing sports and for a nation in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic, keeping kids active is extremely important.

Where it stands: Only 38% of kids aged 6 to 12 played team sports on a regular basis in 2018, down from 45% in 2008, per the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

Between the lines: According to the survey, three of the main reasons kids quit sports are (1) a lack of fun, (2) bad coaches and (3) financial pressure.

  • The youth sports economy has always been big business, but as competitive travel teams have crept into increasingly younger age groups over the past decade, the industry has doubled in size to more than $15 billion.
  • The result is a world of private coaching, interstate travel and mega-complexes (look at this place) full of families willing — and able — to spend as much as $20,000 per year on youth sports.
  • Meanwhile, low-income families are being priced out, resulting in their children losing not only an opportunity to excel at a sport but also the chance to exercise and make friends.
"They may be holding back on vacation or on a car, but they will make certain that Susie goes to the cheerleading competition in Orlando and Johnny gets to his Little League tournament in Georgia."
— Mary Helen Sprecher, sports journalist, to NYT

What they're saying: Lisa Delpy Neirotti, sports management professor at George Washington University, writes in the Washington Post: "Everyone thinks from the Olympic medal count, we have the best youth sports system in the world. But when you look at some of the sports, these are things parents pay for."

  • "If we're really looking at being a more inclusive and healthier society, we should probably get these kids playing together more out on the field — everybody, not just certain populations that can afford it."

My thought bubble: Youth sports in America is becoming a story of the haves and the have-nots. I don't know about you, but I absolutely hate it.

Go deeper, via HBO Real Sports: The price of youth sports

Go deeper

2 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 56 mins ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

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