Putting Our Youth Back in Youth Sports

youth sportsHere’s an interesting read on Huffington Post for all of us youth athletic coaches, volunteers and parents.  Ken Reed is the Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and suggests it’s long past time we “Put the Youth Back in Youth Sports.”   Here’s an excerpt but we suggest you take a few minutes an read the whole article!

The fall is a busy time of year for youth sports. If you take a short drive on a weekday evening — or just about any time during a weekend — within a few miles you’re sure to find boys and girls playing soccer, football, softball, lacrosse, tennis, and undoubtedly, a few sports I’ve left out. It’s a joy to watch kids running around and having fun playing sports. Especially on a beautiful fall day.

However, the problem with these games is there are too many adults who bring their egos to the fields of play. Virtually every youth sports league is plagued by adults who are pathologically focused on winning. Yes, the majority of parents and coaches keep youth sports in perspective but it only takes a few adults — especially coaches — to ruin the sports experience for a bunch of kids.

Of course, the issue of overbearing parents and coaches in youth sports isn’t a new one. However, things are getting worse. For example, the number of incidents of physical violence and verbal abuse at youth sporting events has increased significantly in recent years. According to the National Alliance for Youth Sports, approximately 15% of youth sports games involve a confrontation between parents, between parents and officials, between parents and coaches, or between coaches and officials — up from five percent just five years earlier. Moreover, a National Association of Sports Officials survey found that the primary reason game officials give up the job is poor sportsmanship by parents.

So let’s relax, and more importantly, let our kids relax. Research shows that nearly 80 percent of all children who play adult-organized youth sports drop out by the time they’re 12. The reason most often cited is that it’s no longer fun.

Something to remember as we head out to the fields and courts to coach and watch our kids play this fall.