“The decline of youth sports participation is the sort of phenomenon that seems exquisitely tailored to exacerbate fears about the state of American childhood. One might suspect that the falloff is the result of children gravitating to video games, television, and other electronic distractions that don’t require an open field or a court. Perhaps athletics is just another legacy institution that can’t compete for attention anymore … But dig into the numbers, and a more complex, two-track story emerges. Among richer families, youth sports participation is actually rising.” Derek Thompson on how expensive travel leagues siphon off talented young athletes from well-off families—and leave everyone else behind.