Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's The Point?


I mentioned in my last post that when 830 mothers were surveyed regarding their level of outdoor play compared to that of their children, the only outdoor activity that their children did more than they was adult organized youth sports. 
Many parents take organized youth sports very seriously.  I recently read an article about a standout Jr. High football player dominating his league.  I was surprised when the letters N-F-L appeared prominently in the article.  Several months ago I read a sports illustrated article about a youth basketball team that travels from coast to coast (literally) knocking off their rivals.  Apparently, coaches hand pick talent out of elementary school and promise parents scholarships to big name schools and millions in signing bonuses.  For some parents every thought and decision is devoted to the dream of their child turning pro.  This single-minded commitment to excelling in sports does not in my opinion meet the needs of a developing child let a lone that of their family. Have we missed the point of having our children in adult organized youth sports? 

The point of organized youth sports is to develop character.  Children learn the valuable lessons of following rules, impulse control, and teamwork.  They also learn a valuable past time that, depending on the sport, can be enjoyed for the rest of their lives. 

Many children are no longer encouraged to play sports solely for the pleasure of the activity.  The point of youth sports has become, winning, earning a scholarship, becoming famous, and signing an endorsement deal.  For some it is no longer about life skills and life enjoyment it is about money, competition, and self-aggrandizement. 

I have nothing against youth sports.  I thoroughly enjoyed playing organized sports for many years, and I was even a coach for several teams.  I advise parents however, to focus on the overall character development of their children, rather than the development of their jump shot.  Character is life long, but all athletes have to retire, some more than once.  

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