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Survey: Parents who grew up with soccer are driving big increases in interest in the sport among young children
Soccer America 3.1.21 by Paul Kennedy - @pkedit

It's not too early to start tugging at the hearts of young kids and developing their sports interests.

The NFL aired one of its wild-card games in January Nickelodeon, which drew its biggest audience in nearly four years. Nickelodeon and CBS Sports followed up with “Nick-ified” pre-Super Bowl content before the Tampa Bay-Kansas City championship game.

Morning Consult has released a survey of the sports interests of Generation Alpha, those born after 2013, and their parents, and soccer scored very high.

Morning Consult: Generation Alpha sports survey

A few of the findings of the poll conducted Jan. 28-Feb. 1, 2021, and reported by Morning Consult's Alex Silverman:

-- Of Gen Alpha parents with kids ages 3 or older, 26 percent said their children played soccer, more than football (25 percent), basketball (24 percent) and swimming (24 percent), the next sports with the highest participation rates.

-- The same parents said 23 percent of their children were soccer fans or frequent soccer viewers, a higher percentage than any other sport except the NFL (27 percent). (By contrast, soccer ranked fifth in viewing of Generation Z kids, those born in 1997-2012.)

What is driving this increased interest in soccer among Generation Alpha?

It's rather simple: More Gen Alpha parents played or watched soccer growing up than parents of previous generations, and they are passing on their soccer interest at higher rates than parents are passing along their interest in other sports.

(Almost as many Gen Alpha parents watched soccer as baseball while parents of children born before 1997 watched baseball at rates five times more than soccer. Besides soccer, pro basketball is the only other sport that has registered a generational increase in the percentage of parents who watched that sport.)

And perhaps the biggest driver of soccer interest among young children: Gen Alpha children of soccer-playing or -watching parents were significantly more likely to play or watch soccer -- especially the latter -- than the Gen Alpha children of all parents, with increases (18 percent for participation and 31 percent for viewing) far higher than increases for Gen Alpha children playing or watching other sports.

73% of U.S. parents with kids born from 2013-2017 said they’ve encouraged them to play sports, while 65% said they’ve encouraged them to be fans.

Roughly 1 in 3 kids born from 2013-2017 watch sports on TV or via streaming, parents said.

35% of parents with kids born from 2013-2017 said they lost interest in sports during the pandemic.

Generation Alpha Survey Results

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35% of parents with kids born from 2013-2017 said they lost interest in sports during the pandemic.

Anecdotally that seems to ring true locally based on recently published registration counts. We are starting to see a rebound and interest return, but certainly not sure we will get back to pre-covid numbers in 2021.


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Thank you Kevin for adding some productive content to this space.

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Originally Posted By: Cainhoy Athletic
35% of parents with kids born from 2013-2017 said they lost interest in sports during the pandemic.

Anecdotally that seems to ring true locally based on recently published registration counts. We are starting to see a rebound and interest return, but certainly not sure we will get back to pre-covid numbers in 2021.


Best of luck coach. I think you'll see a bump in your numbers this May.

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Always nice to see new interest but the largest challenge we had through 2020 was in our younger ages (2013-2017 U4-U8 as described in the article). Oddly enough our Junior Academy and older competitive programs (2014-2003) faired well through the pandemic dark period, and actually in a few cases grew last May.

Realistically for all of us there is a certain capacity we have to be mindful of based on logistics and prudent growth (providing value and offering a service to be proud of), so in the most case, I suspect based on historical growth rates in the competitive Coastal district player mass (<5%) , what we will likely see in May is the usual roundabout (circus) of aggressive marketing, recruiting and 20% player churn swapping jerseys (remainder staying where they are). But that's all cool and just hope every family finds a good program for their child based on their agenda (ours or elsewhere).

We'll be looking particularly at ways we can boost that upcoming U4-U8 (2018-2014) recreation count over the summer months and into fall 2021 as the skies start to look a little clearer. Of course not to say we would not welcome new members at any age and skill level, and expect to field a healthy portfolio of soccer options again across most levels, ages and gender.


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Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing!

In our area, our u13-u19s stayed fairly about the same (and I’m saying that based on how many kids played club soccer in our area last year between TFC & GOS. With GPS now gone, many of their players still played, either with us or other local clubs). Where we saw a decrease was in the Jr. academy group as well.

The interesting bit that we saw this past year was a spike in our recreational numbers. We’ve had a major growth in that area, even with the pandemic.


Misael Garzon
May River HS Boys Varsity Head Coach
mgarzon1217@gmail.com

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