Youth Sports, the once boon of constructive engagement and character building activity for kids, has fallen prey to vested interests of all those involved. Parents are looking at college scholarship, coaches are looking at winning athletes which can further get them a large chunk of professional training fees and the school is looking at star performers. All this may not sound pretty standard to you, but think of the long-term repercussions this will have on your child’s life.
What should the aim of youth sports ideally?
From parents’ perspective:
Youth sports presents an excellent opportunity to groom the overall personality of the child. The child gets physical exercise, learns many essential life skills including team playing skills, emotional stability, self-discipline, healthy competitiveness, coping with pressure, working for achieving a goal, empathy and so much. Ideally a parent’s priority should be to ensure that the child is exposed to learning these skills. As long as the child is learning these skills, be assured that the child is getting prepared towards becoming an awesome person, and a good professional in whatever field she chooses, even if it’s not sports.
From the coach’s perspective:
A coach’s job is more than coach game skills. A coach needs to ensure each player is learning the essential life skills that sports denote. A coach needs to groom talent and ensure each player gets the right opportunity. Coach plays the most important role in youth sports and hence the responsibility is also tremendous.
From the school’s perspective:
- The school’s aim should be to ensure that kids are provided for, a good coach is there for the team, a good sports training program is there, and to see that each child reaches her full potential.
Harsh reality is that everyone, the coach, the school, even the parents are bothered more about what they want rather than what the child wants. Everyone is busy coercing the child to play and win, because it solves the purpose of their vested interest in sports. the results are often severe. Either talented, deserving kids develop a strong disliking for sports or break in the sheer pressure.
Many would argue that to reach a certain level in sports, one must go through rigorous training and follow a tough lifestyle, and it’s good if youth sports training initiates the kid into it. Point taken. But that does not warrant the fact that every child has to go through Olympian-style training. For all you know the child is not even into sports and is continuing just because of parents’ expectations or peer pressure.
Playing for children should always mean fun. That’s how childhood is supposed to be. Next time you think youth sports, think of what your child wants, and not what you want.