The Department of Recreational Sports is now allowing children ages three and four to participate in all 18 sports in its Let’s Play Sports program. The Let’s Play Sports program offers instructional classes for children to learn different sports.
Lindsay Bond, coordinator of adapted recreational sports and Learn to Swim community programs at Ohio State, said the change is part of a complete renovation of the Let’s Play Sports program, which includes a restructuring of class levels.
Previously, only children ages five to 14 were permitted to participate, Bond said.
She said that instead of separating children by age, they are now separated by skill level.
“A child potentially learning the exact same thing in basketball for 5- to 6-year-olds taking a 7- to 8-year-old was not logical,” Bond said. “So, we wanted more structure and a distinct difference between the levels.”
She said the change was also brought on by dwindling enrollment.
“Our numbers were starting to be affected by the economy so we knew something had to change to make it worth it for families,” she said.
Chip Whyte, a third-year in accounting, said he has experienced this first hand.
Whyte is the instructor for the Sunday session of Let’s Play Sports flag football program.
He said enrollment has been down in the last two quarters and this one especially.
“It is hard to teach a class when there is only one student,” Whyte said. “It is impossible to play games.”
Bond offered another explanation for why class enrollment has gone down.
“Since we are offering more classes with the restructuring, individual class numbers are low in some sports,” she said.
Matt Terrazzino, the Let’s Play Sports and Active Adult student supervisor, said that despite this, preschool classes have generally had the highest enrollment.
He said soccer and tennis are the most popular sports among all age groups.
Bond said there is a specific lesson plan and curriculum for each sport.
In football, the main goals are teaching children how to stretch properly and proper technique when running and holding onto the ball, Bond said.
Whyte said it is not the curriculum, but the children that provide the biggest challenge.
“These young kids have very short attention spans,” he said. “They get easily distracted by the airplanes flying overhead.”
The programs also offer a chance for students to get involved in the community.
Bond said Whyte is one of about 15 students that work in the Let’s Play Sports program.
She said that the department recruits staff for its summer camp and many of the students then stay on from there to work with Let’s Play Sports.
“Most of them find out about us from word of mouth from friends that work here or submit an application for the department,” she said.
Programs are offered year round but the time of year affects when certain sports are offered.
Parents don’t have to be Recreational Sports members, as member and nonmember rates are offered.
Bond said that the department is, “rolling out marketing for winter classes,” in an effort to boost participation.