Why Sports Matter

Youth sports has the potential to be a wonderful, life altering, and positive experience for our children and our families.  It can also be negative, and detrimental to our relationships with our children, and their own psyche.  Perhaps you are here because your child is just starting in sports, or is having a great time and you want to learn how to help.  Perhaps you are here because it is not going well, it is putting a strain on your relationship, and upon your family.  Whatever the reason, what matters most is that you ARE HERE, and looking to make the youth sports experience a great one for all involved!

Sports parenting is an art, and for each and every child and family, there are a variety of parenting styles, methods and ideas that can all lead to the outcome of a positive sports experience.   Most of us rely upon our own athletic experiences to guide us with our own kids.  At times this may work great, yet at other times our children may think and act so differently then we did we can get frustrated, and be flying blind as we guide them through their own sports experience. We may have been (or still are) high achieving athletes ourselves, yet our kids may not respond the way we did to athletics.  Perhaps we did not have much of an athletic career ourselves, and/or do not have find sports memories from our youth.  What then?   Whom do we rely on to teach us how to make our kids experiences better ones then ours?  Being the parent of a young athlete is not easy, but there is hope, as long as we are not afraid to look for some guidance.  In this section you will hopefully find some information that will help you with your young athletes.

We would never presume to tell anyone how to parent their own child.  Rather, this section will outline for you the basic developmental principals of each age group, and the physical, social, emotional and psychological components of a positive sports experience.   How you get there is completely up to you, we just want to help you recognize a few of the necessary components that may help you negotiate the journey of raising a happy young athlete.

Why Do Sports Matter?

Our children are bombarded with pop culture values that most of would probably deem negative ones (popularity, fame, self centeredness, conceitedness, materialism).   Sports is among the few places where they can learn positive core values, engage in healthy risk taking, and learn life lessons in a safe environment.   At a time when nearly 2/3 of all Americans are already considered ‘overweight’,  and some studies project that by 2030 nearly half of Americans will be obese, children need to build the basic skills and confidence to become life long athletes, and learn about the benefits of activity and good nutrition.  Yet 70% of kids are dropping out of organized sports by age 13!   We need to do more to reverse these alarming, and dangerous trends.

Why Do Kids Play?

According to the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethical Education, research shows that kids play sports for the following reasons:

  • To Have Fun (always #1)
  • To do something I am good at
  • To improve my skills
  • To get exercise and stay in shape
  • To be part of a team
  • Excitement of competition

They do not play to win.  They like to win, they enjoy competing, but they do not play to win.  They play to have fun, to be with their friends, to feel good about themselves, and because it is exciting.  Yet how often do we pick and choose our kids’ sports team because it is the winning team, the winning coach, the defending champion, and assume that because of all the wins everything else just happens?  We look at wins and losses, and fail to search for happy faces, and proper developmental environments.

According to Dan Gould at the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, kids want to have fun, to get better, and to be with their friends.  They want parental support and encouragement.  They want you to watch them play and praise them for their effort.  They want you to be realistic about their ability.  And they want you to be present, and interested in what they are doing.  They do not want you to yell at their coach, the officials, and them.  They don’t want you to put too much pressure on them, or be overly critical.  They want the game to be theirs!

Why Do Kids Quit?

Studies also show that kids quit sports for the following reasons:

  • Criticism and yelling
  • No playing time
  • Emphasis on winning
  • Poor communication
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Boredom
  • Not learning

It is up to us as parents to make sure our children are in sports environments that accentuate the positives, and keep kids in the game. We also must be on the lookout for the items above, making sure that we are communicating with our kids about their experience.  it is up to us to ensure that they are having fun, that sports is not overly critical, that they are not afraid, and most importantly, that athletics is fun!

All information from https://changingthegameproject.com/ please check out their website for more information and resources