07/11/2014 06:58 EDT | Updated 07/11/2014 06:59 EDT

There's A Good Reason Why Many Canadian Kids Aren't Playing Sports

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Several young Canadians are not participating in organized sports, and the reason is clear: the cost is just too high.

So says a poll commissioned by CIBC and KidSport, a non-profit that helps families with equipment and registration fees.

Results from a survey of 2,010 people show that one-third of Canadian children between the ages of three and 17 years old do not partake in things like hockey, dance, baseball or tennis due to the cost involved, said a Thursday news release.

The poll found that parents with children in organized sports spend an average of nearly $1,000 per kid each year.

Sixty-one per cent of respondents named enrollment fees as the barrier keeping kids out of organized sports, while 52 per cent mentioned equipment costs.

At 38 per cent, soccer was played by the largest number of children, followed by swimming at 22 per cent and basketball at 19 per cent. The sports played by the least number of kids included skating lessons and tennis at six per cent each, and football at five per cent.

"It is shocking to find out so many families cannot afford to put their kids in organized sport," said Simon Whitfield, Olympic gold medallist and CIBC Team Next mentor, in a statement.

The trend comes at a time when youth obesity is rising. Nearly one-third of Canadians aged five to 17 years old (about 1.6 million) were considered overweight or obese in a 2012 Statistics Canada study.

A report looking at data for 2005 told a similar story.

It found that 51 per cent of children played organized sports that year, compared to 57 per cent in 1992.

The study also found that sports participation was more prevalent among families with higher incomes. Sixty-eight per cent of respondents with the highest income said their children were enrolled in sports, compared to 44 per cent for the lowest.

And though swimming is one of the most common activities among children playing organized sports, there are signs that this a gap in swimming knowledge among all children could be one factor leading to an increase in drowning rates.

A 2014 report released by the Lifesaving Society Canada named an inability to swim as the largest risk factor contributing to drowning incidents in Ontario while swimming.

To help with the issue of sports participation, CIBC has made a $1-million, multi-year pledge to KidSport to help kids partake in athletic activities.

"We all know organized sport helps keep kids active, healthy and builds self-esteem," Whitfield said. "This $1-million commitment is important and gives our kids a much-needed running start."

Helping Our Kids Get Off the Sidelines

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