A SWOT analysis of the Bridgeport Youth Recreational Sports Program

Student: Joanne Downing*
Mentor: Valerie Wherley
Major: Exercise Science

Across the United States, suburban youth sport programs are becoming increasingly more popular, expensive, and competitive, while urban settings and lower socioeconomic areas have difficultly initiating the same physical activity opportunities.  Organized sport involvement is not only attributed to improving strength, endurance, and overall health but also provide an environment for social interactions, development of self-esteem, confidence, and setting goals for the future. The push for incorporating athletic afterschool programs in low socioeconomic areas is on the rise, as more and more children are facing changing social forces leading to behavioral problems and delinquency. With this in mind, the US census indicates that the city of Bridgeport currently has 25% of children living in a household with income below the poverty line. In only its third year of the program, the Bridgeport Parks and Recreational Department sports programming efforts have incurred increasing enrollment, with nearly 360 participants in basketball, alone.  The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Bridgeport Youth Recreational Sports program using a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. The greatest strength of the program is the basketball program, as it provides a sense of community for both athletes and family members by generating large crowds and a competitive atmosphere. The greatest weakness was determined to be the delayed onset of athletic participation, with the average age of enrollment not occurring until middle school. The greatest opportunity for the program would be to apply for grants and other funding and to grow other programs, such as volleyball, softball/baseball, soccer, and flag football. The most significant threat to the program was identified as the challenging family dynamics—lack of transportation and parent interest. Results from the analysis will be provided to the Bridgeport Board of Education and Bridgeport Parks and Recreation Department for external feedback and advice for youth sport program growth and improvement.

*Honors Senior