Above the Rim

A high-level scan of Milwaukee’s youth sports landscape

June 2020


Our broad scan of the youth sports landscape in Milwaukee — concluded just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — found a wide array of organizations offering options but operating in a largely fragmented fashion. Encouragingly, we also identified opportunities to improve youth sports programming and a consensus that enhanced collaboration among providers and stakeholders could enrich the youth sports experience for Milwaukee children and families.

Key findings include:

  • Because communications about the various offerings are fragmented and limited, it is difficult to know the true extent of options for kids and their families.
  • The recruitment of quality coaches is essential for the success of youth sports programs, but training requirements for coaches vary widely.
  • Funding, particularly from philanthropic and other non-user sources, is a top challenge. Many organizations rely on grants or donations for large portions of their budgets, and several expressed concern about their ability to continue receiving adequate outside funding.
  • Transportation is a key barrier to participation in youth sports. Follow-up research with youth and/or their families and identification of best practices from other communities may be beneficial.

This report was commissioned by the Milwaukee Youth Sports Alliance (MYSA) and completed in April. It is being released now in conjunction with an MYSA initiative to help guide the return of youth sports in Milwaukee, particularly in areas of the city disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.