Organized sports for young people have become an institution in North America. Sports like baseball, football, ice hockey and soccer attract 44 million youngsters, according to the National Council of Youth Sports. In some cases, players grow and have fun while being taught the game by experienced coaches. One of the keys to organized youth sports is providing a safe environment for all players to enjoy sports.
Little League Baseball
Little League Baseball is synonymous with youth baseball. In 1939, Carl Stotz of Williamsport, Pennsylvania founded an organization that gave youngsters the opportunity to play organized baseball. Stotz's goal was to teach players the ideals of the game, fair play and teamwork. According to LittleLeague.org, there are more than 200,000 Little League teams in 50 states and it is also popular around the world.
Pop Warner Football
The first youth football league was founded in 1929 in Philadelphia. Joseph J. Tomlin started a four-team league and called it the Junior Football Conference. The league changed its name to Pop Warner in honor of Glenn "Pop" Warner, who was the legendary coach of Temple University. Pop Warner Football teaches youngsters how to get in top condition and play organized football under safe conditions. Pop Warner Football is played in all 50 states and in many foreign countries.
While soccer has not grown to the proportions of baseball, football, basketball and ice hockey in the United States, youth soccer is attractive to young people and their parents. Many youngsters turn to soccer because it is nowhere near as hard hitting as football. AYSO soccer was founded in Los Angeles in 1964 by Hans Stierle. The first league had nine teams and Stierle opened the league up to any youngster who wanted to play. Players who had never kicked a soccer ball were taught how to play and were put in the lineup. The organization had grown to 50,000 teams in all 50 states with 650,000 players by 2010.
USA Junior Hockey
USA Junior Hockey was organized in 1999. The stated goals of the organization are to provide an opportunity for young players to play the game and to help players, coaches and referees improve. Additionally, USA Junior Hockey wants to help players advance outside the rink by providing players with the chance to continue their education and grow socially. The junior hockey program is open to all players 20 or younger.