Youth Sports: Issues & Progress

Many children take up a sport from a young age, whether they enjoy the game, they want to make friends, or they aim to go pro. However, many student athletes undergo serious amounts of pressure from their parents, coaches, and society.

Youth Sports: Issues & Progress analyzes factors that affect young athletes’ everyday lives, including nutrition, bullying, injuries, clubs, training, risk factors, and more. Our goal is to shed light on these issues, show how far they’ve come, and share young athletes’ experiences for the benefit of others.

You can read the stories by exploring our menu, or jump to our “About” page to watch a full newscast exploring these topics, as well as behind-the-scenes vignettes.


At-risk youth find greater mental strength, spiritual transformation in community sports | Chris Benincaso and Patricio Espinoza

In the rising heat of a recent summer morning, teenage boys congregated on Phoenix Christian School’s football field, waiting to take turns going long for passes.

Valley sports hazing incidents put spotlight on coaches and culture | Eddie Poe and Devin Conley

Twice in the past year, high-profile hazing incidents have hit Valley high schools, requiring coaches and administrators to examine the culture and monitoring of their teams, according to interviews with coaches and experts.

Sports specialization can lead to overuse injuries in young athletes | John Arlia and Sara Hattis

Every morning, Blaise Becker wakes up just after 4 a.m., packs his hockey bag and heads off to Arcadia Ice Arena.

Poor nutrition can hurt young athletes as they grow | Susan Horowitz and Annika Wolters

When Christina Barth was a dietitian for an elite youth soccer team, she encountered many different eating patterns among, what she described as, the “mini-professional athletes”.

Presidents’ fitness councils make slow progress against childhood obesity | Brianna Stearns

When a study showed American youth were significantly more obese than their European peers, it shocked the president into creating a council aimed at combating the childhood obesity epidemic and increasing physical fitness throughout the country.

Youth sports by the numbers | Yu Zang

Youth sports are booming in the US today. Almost 22 million children between ages 6 and 17 play team sports, according to Sports and Fitness Industry Association research.

Club sports provide access to recruiters, but are costly to families | Greg Macafee

Every February, hundreds of teams and thousands of spectators from around the United State converge on the Reach 11 Sports Complex in northern Phoenix to compete in one of the largest soccer tournaments in the country.

About the project | Staff

Youth Sports: Issues and Progress is a collaborative, investigative report written and produced by graduate students at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.