Parents have always held tremendous power and influence on the youth sports experience. Sports parents are the ones signing-up the kids, paying the fees, buying the equipment, volunteering as coaches, and filling the stands to cheer on their children. As parents change, youth sports change. This is a simple rule that has been around for decades.
And then there are Millennials. Cue the music... they are growing up and having kids!
Millennials are the generation born roughly between 1980 - 2000. They grew up in a world with technology comfort, social media, intrusive advertising, and an exploding sports media industry. They shop differently, think differently and view the youth sports experience differently. And the modern youth sports coach and administrator is wise to take notice of this shift with their group of parents.
At Jersey Watch, we believe millennial parents will change youth sports significantly and in many ways, for the better. In this post we highlight four ways that millennial parents are impactfully changing the youth sports experience.
1. They Demand Mobile
To communicate well with millennial parents, a youth sports coach or administrator must turn to mobile as their primary channel. A whopping 86 percent of millennials own smart phones across America. Millennial parents do not view their phone as a calling device; they view it as their remote to the world. Whether it is searching for driving directions, game cancelations, or score updates, millennial parents will turn to mobile first. They expect their child's youth sports organization to have a mobile friendly site, and offer several mobile-friendly communication streams (SMS, email, social media). The modern youth sports organizer makes mobile a priority.
2. They Don't Use Cash or Check
Millennial parents overwhelmingly do not carry cash. A bank visit for a millennial is done on their phone. Snap a picture of a check, and it's done. A recent study found one in four millennials carry less than $5 of cash with them seven days a week. Digital wallets and online transfers are becoming mainstream, and millennials trust these digital tools much more than older generations. What does this mean for the modern youth sports organizer? Yes, it would be a great idea to have a Square credit card reader at the concession stand, but the main impact in youth sports will surround player registration and collecting parent fees. If this sounds intimidating, take a look at these 5 Myths about online payments. Millennial parents don't believe these myths. They want money transactions to occur digitally and efficiently.
3. They Follow Sports Differently
Millennials watch sports and consume sports media differently than older generations. Having a second device open during a sports event has become second nature and they more readily turn to alternative video sources like Youtube for highlights and sports video. This trend is accelerating, and Forbes highlighted why ESPN should be worried in light of this shift. To pile on, Twitter is now live streaming NFL games. So, the next time your millennial parents are glued to their phone or Gamechanger app on their tablet during a contest, remember this shift is here to stay. Call it distraction or connection, millennial sports parents want to follow youth sports this way, and they will turn to technologies that meet their needs.
4. They Share Their Life on Social Media
Social media is a mainstay in the life of a millennial sports parent, and one of their primary ways of engaging with friends and following news. In the past 10 years, social media use has skyrocketed from 7% to 65% of American adults, and 87% of millennials use Facebook. Millennial parents bring this mindset to their youth sports life, and want to actively post, share, and comment on their child's sports organization. The modern youth sports organizer is active in engaging on social media channels, whether that be a team Facebook page, Twitter account, or sharing photos on Instagram. Millennial parents expect this type of content, and progressive youth sports organizations make social media a priority.
Bottom Line with Millennial Sports Parents?
Millennial parents are changing youth sports and they represent the future for millions of athletes, coaches and followers They bring a different set of expectations to their child's participation, and at Jersey Watch, we think the four changes mentioned above will overwhelmingly bring positive change to youth sports in America.