Over the past 10 to 20 years, the number of children involved in organized sports has hurdled to more than 40 million participants. Youth soccer leagues increased from 15 million players in 1987 to 17.5 million in 2002. Pop Warner football nearly doubled its numbers, to 260,000 players (and 140,000 cheerleaders). Only Little League Baseball has declined, and not by much β€” more than 2.2 million kids are running the bases this summer. Pope Benedict XVI has praised athletic competition, saying that sports can offer β€œan educational instrument and a vehicle for important human and spiritual values.”

Source: CNN, July 5