Trump raises concern over declining youth participation in sports


US President Donald Trump today exhorted the American youths to participate in sports as he raised concern over the decline in students participating in such activities.

"In 2016, only 37 per cent of young kids play team sports on a regular basis, down from 45 per cent from 10 years ago, and the decline has been even worse among students from low-income families. We must reverse these trends, and we will. We're making it possible for you to do that," Trump said at the White House Sports and Fitness Day.

As such, for the first time in history, Trump said, he has directed the President's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition Council to work with the White House and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to develop a national strategy to increase youth participation.

He also boasted of his huge following on social media during the event where he described the virtues of fitness and sports. "Do I have social skills? I don't know. I have social media, that's for sure. I don't know about skill, but I have a lot of media," Trump said.

Trump boasts about having over 100 million followers on social media. "All of life's most valuable lessons are learned on the field of competition. There, young Americans will discover that's what they do. They discover. They're learning all the time, the importance of teamwork, social skills," Trump said, counting several benefits associated with indulging in physical activities.

"The skills learned on the field through competition brings in the ability to overcome adversity, making lifelong friends all along the way. The skills learned out on the track field, and the court, and the diamond, and the gridiron, and the golf course, and those tennis courts are skills that will serve young Americans for the rest of their lives," Trump said.

The 71-year-old US president said participating in sports builds character, forges friendships, tears down barriers and brings people from all walks of life closer together. "I've loved sports all of my life. I always loved the people of sports, but I have loved sports all of my life. Sports also help kids stay off the street, and stay out of trouble."

The US president rued at the decline in the youth participation in sports despite its several benefits. "Students who participated in sports have up to 40 per cent higher test scores. That one, I've never heard. That's pretty impressive. Are 15 per cent more likely to attend college, and have eight per cent higher annual earnings later on. Yet, in recent years, youth participation in sports has been declining," he said.

The President welcomed his Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition along with over 250 children, parents, and coaching staff to participate in the event.

Sports participation and physical activity are crucial for youth development, supporting personal and social growth, lifetime health and fitness habits, and a competitive spirit, said Lindsay Walter, Deputy White House Press Secretary. "Children that play sports have a higher educational achievement, earn a higher income as adults and have improved mental health," she said.

Through an Executive Order on February 26, 2018, the President's Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, the Trump Administration will utilize the Council to reverse the declining trend of youth sports participation and to ensure that all American children are given the opportunity to compete and gain the developmental benefits of participating in sports, Walters said.

After his remarks, Trump officially kicked off the White House field day. He then started making a tour of the different stations, accompanied by Herschel Walker, Misty May-Treanor and Mariano Rivera along with Azar and his daughter Ivanka.

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