In Burn Out, Problems in Youth Sports

Here’s a couple of alarming statistics for you: Nearly 2 out of every 3 children quit sports by age 10; That’s almost 66.6%! This climbs to 3 out of every 4 children or 75% quitting by the ages of 13-15.

Want to know why?

What the experts say is that there is too much pressure on them to win and an over-emphasis on the outcome at the expense of the learning process and fun. Because of the over-focus on winning, the adults involved, i.e. coaches and parents, end up saying and doing things which kill the young athletes enjoyment of their sport, pushing them to become drop-out statistics.

That is, coaches get too caught up in just fielding the best teams, ignoring their less talented athletes and stressing the importance of winning. In the process, they lose their sensitivity, yell at or embarrass certain players whenever they fall short of expectations and generally forget that they are working with living, breathing, feeling organisms. Similarly, parents get totally caught up in wanting their kids to be the best, get a college scholarship, etc. and so say and do things which violate the parent-child bond.

Oh, Dr. G! Get over yourself! Of course sports are competitive and supposed to be about winning. After all, if you’re not playing to be the best and win, what’s the point? And besides, my kid is super talented and wants to be the best. Give the “goodie-two-shoes” stuff a break why don’t you!

Let’s not shoot the messenger here. Any way you slice it, we have a serious crisis in youth sports and it’s being fueled by our twisted perspective of what’s really important here. Call me niave, but I always viewed competitive sports as a wonderful vehicle to teach our children valuable life skills, life lessons and to build self-esteem and feelings of inner competency. The winning should be an after thought to these more important tasks. We corrupt the whole process when we make sports all about winning. Not only that, but we end up teaching our kids the wrong life lessons in the process.


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