In the space of just six days, just six days after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., Chico Averbuck received four voice mails and seven emails from Sonoma County parents, telling him their kid was seriously unhappy playing basketball and wanted to know what they could do about it. Averbuck, director of International Scouting for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, didn't think it was a coincidence.
"The shooting, for a lot of parents across America, was a trigger, for them to look at their kids a little closer to see what was going on with them," said the Santa Rosa resident and 1985 El Molino graduate. "I was curious to see if this was the norm."
Averbuck went online and found a study posted on the National Alliance For Youth Sports (NAFYS) website. It was from a 1991 research project conducted at Michigan State. It stated 35 million to 40 million student-athletes sign up every year to play organized sports and that 70 percent of them quit by age 13. They quit all sports, not just the one bringing them dissatisfaction. Even though the study is 22 years old Greg Bach of NAFYS believes it is as pertinent today as it was in 1991.
"If anything, that percentage has probably gone up," said Bach, director of communications for the Florida-based organization. "The focus is all about winning, more than it's ever been. And many times the kids are gone before they even reach 13."
Averbuck's reaction to the high percentage of abandonment?
"I was floored," he said. "I had no idea that many would never play sports again. I mean, never play any sport!"