Youth sports scholarships provide funds to young athletes and their families for the purpose of helping those athletes successfully participate in the sports of their choice. Between costs for equipment, participation, travel, camps and sports clinics, many families simply cannot afford to allow their children to keep playing or even play at all at a competitive level for their age.
Scholarships for young athletes run the gamut from very casual to very professional. Many are awarded by community centers or local organizations for league, intramural or public classes that normally cost only a small fee. Others award large amounts of money to children who show significant promise in a particular sport but who are unable to continue with lessons or camps because their families are not able to pay. In most cases, the purpose of a sports scholarship for children is simply to allow the recipients to participate in athletic activities that might not be an option for economic reasons.
Scholarships that help families afford fitness classes or league sports are beneficial for keeping kids in top shape. According to KidsHealth.org, school-aged children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, so if you have a couch potato on your hands but aren't able to pay for her to participate in sports, a scholarship can help her meet that exercise quota. The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition also notes that joining sports teams also helps kids form and maintain positive friendships with others and develop a knowledge of and respect for proper sportsmanship.
In some cases, you may have to exhibit proof of financial need when you apply for a scholarship. There are various ways to demonstrate need, such as receiving Medicaid, caring for foster children, receiving food stamps or being enrolled in a free or reduced-cost school lunch program. In some cases, parents may also have to present a letter of recommendation to apply or may need to perform volunteer work in exchange for the scholarship award.
It's important for parents and caregivers to realize that youth sports scholarships are very different from scholarships for college and high school athletes. With a youth scholarship, awards are most often based on financial need and desire to participate and do not always take a student's athletic ability into account. In addition, scholarships for youth sports are rarely as competitive as high school and college awards, which may offer winners thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in an attempt to attract them to specific schools or leagues.