NEW JERSEY – With the 2023 Little League World Series underway, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Wednesday stood with local Little League athletes, parents, and coaches at Fort Lee’s American Baseball Field to announce new bipartisan federal legislation that will provide tax credits for families to lower the cost of youth recreational sports and equipment.
The bipartisan Promoting Lifelong Activity for Youth Act, or PLAY Act, is being led by Gottheimer and Congressman Mike Lawler (NY-10).
The bipartisan PLAY Act:
- Allows families to use the Child and Dependent Tax Credit for expenses related to youth sports and other physical activities.
- Helps parents pay for their children’s league registration fees and sports equipment using pre-tax dollars and boost the maximum contribution of these dollars per household.
- Creates a federal grant program to invest in recreational youth sports programs and organizations — expanding opportunities for kids to get involved while helping lower costs for parents and families.
Costs of Little League and youth sports:
- The average family pays $883 annually for one child’s primary sport.
- Studies show that children from lower-income families are half as likely to play sports as children from homes with higher incomes.
- The cost of baseballs has increased 50% in recent years, and the cost of umpires has increased 20%.
Benefits of Recreational Youth Sports:
- New studies have directly linked participation in youth team sports with fewer mental health difficulties. And being on a team improves self-esteem and confidence.
- Adolescents who play sports are eight times more likely to be physically active at age 24 than those who do not play.
- Sports boost cardiovascular health, burn calories, raise metabolism, and improve strength and mobility. Physically active young people also tend to have more quality sleep.
“Through rec sports, my daughter and son have learned so much, had so much fun, and made friendships that will last a lifetime. But, if you look at the numbers, rec participation is down sharply since the pandemic. The number of kids playing team sports today is nowhere near where it should be, and I’m afraid this trend will continue. Part of the drop off is the battle with screen time, but another driver of these numbers for many families is simply the cost of participating in rec sports — and the cost has gone up,” Gottheimer said. “We need to make sure every kid in Jersey who wants to, has the opportunity to play and take part in recreational, or rec, sports leagues. I never want a kid sitting on the sideline because he or she can’t afford to get out and play and stay healthy and active, regardless of the sport.”
Gottheimer was joined by New Jersey State Senator Gordon Johnson, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Fort Lee Councilman Bryan Drumgoole, Fort Lee Councilman Harvey Sohmer, Fort Lee Little League President Tom Porto, Little League New Jersey District 6 Administrator Jeff Ware, parents, and Local Fort Lee Little League and Softball players.