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Build-A-Story: Rich kids, poor kids in youth sports

, by Peggy Peattie)

Do rich kids really have an advantage over poor kids when it comes to playing sports? That’s the question I want to answer in a story about economic inequity in youth sports.

But this concept needs a lot more focus before it reaches the printed page or the big web site. That’s where Story Lab readers come in. We’d welcome your comments, tips and suggestions on where to start researching this story.

Are you a parent of a child in youth sports? Do you see a gap in the quality of sports kids can participate in depending on how much money their families have? How much money do you spend on your child a year? Is it worth it? Have you ever hired a personal coach, trainer or sports psychologist for your young athlete? Do such extras really boost kids' performance--or make them that much more attractive to college coaches? Have you noticed that children who don’t have these advantages perform more poorly than peers who do?

What kind of return on investment do you expect for any money you spend on youth sports -- a college scholarship or just the satisfaction that you are giving your child every advantage? Do you have spending limits?

Do you think economic inequities are less acute in team sports such as basketball or football than in activities like soccer? Or individual sports like golf or tennis? If you were exploring this divide, what venue would best tell the story--the soccer field, the gymnasium or the swim complex? In your opinion, do parents or coaches put too much pressure on their young athletes these days? If so, how?

gowena-id.jpeg I’d love to hear any advice, tips or anecdotes. Just shoot me an E-mail. Thanks!

Annie Gowen has been a reporter for the Post's Metro section since 1997 and currently covers wealth, class and income -- what her editor likes to call the "Rich Man, Poor Man" beat. She has also contributed to the Post's Style section and Sunday Magazine. Annie Gowen's articles.

By Annie Gowen  | December 1, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  
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Annie, Pat Welsh, a T.C. Williams high school English teacher and a wonderful writer whose work often appears in the Post's Outlook section, wrote a piece back in 2000 called "At T.C. Williams, Separate Fields of Play." It was less about the rich/poor divide at the Alexandria high school and more about the black/white divide he saw on the playing fields.

He wrote this shortly after the movie, "Remember The Titans" came out, lauding the integration of the school's football team.

He wrote:
"Today, at T.C. Williams and, I suspect, at many other schools, too many kids are being deprived of that Titans-like bonding experience because sports themselves have become stereotyped: There are "black" sports and "white" sports, and few students dare to cross the racial divide.

Over the years, since that championship black-white team of '71, whites have all but disappeared from football in Alexandria. By 1984, when T.C. won another state championship with what many consider an even better team, there were only two white starters. Today, there are only five whites on T.C.'s 55-man roster. Meanwhile, it's no secret that one of the motivations for building T.C. a $ 1.3 million boathouse in 1985 that is the envy of most colleges was to keep middle-class white students in the Alexandria public school system. Crew, in which about 200 students participate, is unquestionably the white sport, and ambitious parents believe it helps get their kids into top schools."

Here is a link to the story in the Post's archives:

Posted by: BrigidSchulte | December 1, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

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