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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2021 Mar 26

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.21.12304-7

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

Financial and medical burdens of youth sports specialization - survey of pediatric sports patients

Sachin ALLAHABADI 1, Lucia CALTHORPE 2, Nirav PANDYA 1

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA; 2 School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA


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BACKGROUND: The trend towards youth sports specialization has led to increased costs from higher injury rate and from private club fees. The objectives were to characterize the financial and medical burdens of sports specialization with single sport participation or club sports involvement.
METHODS: An 18-item survey on sports participation and musculoskeletal injury was administered to parents of patients visiting the clinic of a pediatric sports medicine orthopaedic surgeon over a three-month period. Comparisons were made between groups to identify differences in medical and financial burdens. Logistic regressions were performed to evaluate odds ratios for binary outcomes.
RESULTS: Club athletes were significantly younger than non-club athletes (12.9 ± 3.1 years versus 14.9 ± 2.8 years, p = .0002) with club athletes starting sports at average of 7.2 ± 3.1 years. Club sports participation (adjusted OR 5.88, 95% CI: 1.10, 31.4) and female sex (adjusted OR 3.47, 95% CI: 1.12, 10.74) were significant predictors of spending > $1000 USD on sports annually. Multisport participation (OR 5.72, 95% CI: 1.21, 26.96) and spending > $1000 on sports annually (OR 17.21, 95% CI: 1.49, 199.25) were significant predictors of presenting to clinic for a sports-related injury. Single sport athletes had a higher number of medical appointments for sports injuries (18.6 ± 23.0 versus 9.3 ± 10.0 for multisport, p = .0042).
CONCLUSIONS: Youth sports specialization is of substantial financial and medical burden to families. This data can help identify areas of intervention to mitigate injury risk and reduce financial barriers to youth sports participation.


KEY WORDS: Sports specialization; Youth sports; Financial; Club sports; Single sport

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