My .02 cents. When I was a kid, we played after school without any adult supervision- pond hockey, baseball, football, soccer, whatever. We also play organized sports for our town team a couple of days a week, but after school we dumped our book bag, ran back out the front door and joined in whatever was going on in the street, the local park or pond. We came home when it was dark, soaking wet and freezing, took a shower and ate dinner with the family.
I don't see much of that now. Kids
1- Don't play sports and what exercise they get at school is not enough.
2- Kids don't play sports for the love of the game, its become too organized in some ways (and I will argue that skill levels have suffered because of it.)
My son is in great shape, plays hockey 3 or 4 days per week, soccer 1 or 2 days, in organized practice/leagues. He is the exception in his 5th grade, some of the lazy lima beans he goes to school with can't run a lap at the school track. Not the kids fault, their parents would rather park their kid in front of a television and playstation as a baby sitter. Still, I often take him aside, and ask him-
Are you having fun ?
Has the drive towards youth sports made kids miserable ? Hockey is like an arms race where parents are seduced to spend tons of money on the 1 in 15,000 chance that they will make the NHL (statistics from the Hockey News.) I had an argument with a parent that is convinced that her golden child will play in the NHL one day because he scored 55 goals as a 9 year old- despite the fact that he is small, a pussy and USA Hockey doesn't allow checking at his age. I told her I have no idea if my kid will play in the NHL, or college, but he plays because he loves the game, not because I forced him to do it. More likely (hopefully) he will end up a policeman, plumber, engineer, soldier, doctor, electrician, pilot...whatever he hopes to do I just want his experience in sports to make him understand that there is a world out there larger than himself.
So, I would argue that the Army if it wants a pool of good future recruits for enlistment should fund and support youth athletics. Goes against everything that I think about the government, but if you're going to blow a few billion dollars it's money well spent.