Monday, November 3, 2014

Youth Sports:Should it Really be about winning?

     My 12 year old, who is in 6th grade just finished playing his first, and probably only, year of tackle football. It is a 5th/6th grade team. He was an offensive lineman. 1st-4th graders can play flag football, which he never chose to do. He never played any sport because he was not really interested. I am happy to have the season over with because it was very painful to watch. He played 5 minutes of every game while many other players were on the field the entirety of every single game. 5 or 6 players stood on the sidelines the majority of every game. I don't think it should be this way until they are on the high school team. At these young ages is when they should all be playing, learning and improving.

      My son is not aggressive and is, like me, very uncoordinated. It took a whole lot for him to try this since he never tried any sport before this. He went to a summer football day camp and really liked it. Because of this experience he is totally turned off of sports now, and possibly forever.

  Before the season started and he only had practices he LOVED it and always loved practices. Games were another story. They were totally boring for him because he wasn't allowed to participate. I MADE him finish the season and attend every practice and game to teach him about follow through, and sportsmanship even though he wanted to quit and cried before every game because he didn't like going.

      This team and this sport is not the only time I have seen things like this happen. In the 1st and 2nd flag football team, there were 2 teams. One consisted of the more athletic, bigger kids, and the other consisted of less athletic smaller kids. I find it hard to believe that is a coincidence. Those teams were stacked. During the local summer baseball league a few very athletic 3rd graders were recruited for the 4th/5th grade team. Those students played while some 4th/5th grade players were benched. I find this ridiculous.

      Youth sports for students younger than high school should be about learning the sport, playing for fun, instilling a love of sports and practicing to improve.There should be equal play time for all players. Instead they are being taught that winning is everything, and if you aren't athletic you shouldn't play. I think this is a purposeful strategy to weed out all the mediocre players before high school. They want them to quit so they can have an all-star team. I find this a bad approach. I believe that if all players are put in the game an equal amount of time, at a young age, they could also become great players. They are not being given that opportunity, which is just sad. They never improve and never get to play so they quit.
 I do not care if my kids play sports. I do not care if they are any good or not. I just want them to be given the opportunity to play, learn, have fun and be a part of something. I want them to decide if they want to play or not. I do not want the decision to be made for them before they even begin.That is what is happening when they are never played and they end up hating it so they quit. The child end up disappointed and may even have self-esteem issues because of it. It seems like none of this matters to these coaches that approach youth sports this way. It doesn't matter to them as long as they win. Winning IS everything after all right? Who cares who gets hurt in the process! This is what we are teaching our kids! 

     What do you think? Are Youth sports too competitive?