Why Johnny Hates Sports Book Review Youth Sports • Sports is the greatest tool we have in today’s society to help children develop positive character traits and life values. • All children must have a safe, positive and meaningful experience from sports • Youth sports were intended for fun, relaxation and recreation Youth Sports (2) • Key questions to address: • what do children at different ages want from sports • what role does winning play • importance of having fun • why kids quit sports The problems • Pain, frustration and anger that results from a negative sports experience • Damage feelings of self-worth • Frozen by the fear of making a mistake • Begged to quit because the pressure was too unbearable and playing was no longer fun • 70 % of the 20 million children who participate in youth sports will quit by the age of 13 because of bad experiences Who is at fault ? • Youth sports administrators who allegedly set the standards for conduct, fail to recognize when those standards are breached, and neglect their duty to discipline appropriately those responsible. • Sportsmanship and fair play have become virtually non-existent, while cheating, taunting, attacking officials and running up the score have increased dramatically Sports in America Today • The ideals of sportsmanship, fair play, and simply doing your best have been traded in for the far less noble pursuits of today’s ultra-competitive, high pressure, do-anything-it-takes-to-win world of athletics. • A great deal of blame goes to the media for popularizing negative and violent behavior. It’s all part of the game, they say as they replay and replay the bad incidents leaving them branded in our memory. It’s All About Image • Sports have become a stage for individuals who constantly fight for a piece of the spotlight. • The emphasis has shifted to style over substance • Image is everything • Colleges are becoming hypocritical as education now plays second fiddle to the big business of collegiate sports. 3 Overriding Concerns • Lacking responsible leadership • Parents too often put their children in programs for their own purposes • Negative sports experiences could affect children’s lives both physically and psychologically Parents • At times, youth sports can bring out the best in children – and the worst in parents. • There are too many parents who operate in their dysfunctional world of insults, violence, ill manners, and downright obnoxious behavior where winning is all really matters. • it’s ironic that nobody yells at a child who forgets lines during a play, but watch out if they drop a fly ball. Parents (2) • Parents have a strong influence on youth sports, for better or for worse. • The 3 primary factors that influence parental attitudes and behavior toward children and youth sports are: Greed - they want it all – scholarship, money, Fear – don’t want to be left out - overly consumed Ego - personal status – ‘don’t I look good’ • The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents Parents (3) • Youth sports becomes a golden opportunity for many parents to become immersed in a team. • Too often promising young players fizzle under the strain of parents’ expectations. • When adults crush the individual spirit with discouragement and only support them when they conform to our desires for status and recognition, we create a world of alienation and frustration for the young athlete. Parents (4) • Maturity requires that people anticipate and take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. • Immature parents don’t take responsibility, but blame the referee, coach or others for the mistakes. • Immature parents who berate the coach, insult the referee, or scorn the opposition - don’t think of the consequences, take no responsibility and the kids are the losers. Parents (5) • Parents want – and deserve – the very best for their child. Most parents do a really decent job of keeping a sense of perspective, setting reasonable rules, and caring deeply about the welfare of their children. • Parents lose perspective when their children participate in sports. Competition places their children in a vulnerable position and the natural impulse is to try to control it. It is difficult to control that which is uncontrollable – competition. The Youth Coach • Approximately 85 % of the volunteer coaches have their own child on the team., • In many respects, the coach on the field operates much like the teacher in the classroom • Children, especially those below the age of 10, are extremely impressionable. • It’s important to look at exactly who the coaches are, why they got involved, and with what kind of training. The Youth Coach – the problem(s) • No one had ever told him what he was supposed to do • Typically, they don’t understand how to organize a practice, know what role winning should play, appreciate how to deal with parents, comprehend what motivates kids, or grasp the important lifetime influence they will have on children. Youth Coaches – the need for training • Volunteering time is not quite enough • Need a basic education program that trains them to make sports positive, safe and fun. • Policy requiring every youth coach be exposed to a good training program before he coaches a child. • What children will carry away with them from their sports experience will endure far longer than the outcome of any single game. Administrators – the key to it all • Too many administrators are in over their heads, despite their best intentions. • Major areas of concern: • Little understanding of the effects of: early maturation on athletic performance – safety – prevention of injuries – recruiting and training volunteers – and financial accountability. Problems Administrators Face • • • • • • Keep philosophy focused on the participants Managing the finances / raising funds Recruiting and educating volunteers Emphasizing the importance of safety Clarifying the concept of winning More than 50 % of local program organizers don’t have any type of organizational training • Volunteer administrators historically only follow in the footsteps of their predecessor / status quo !! Confusing Play with Competition • Problems develop when we set goals for our kids without carefully taking into account the reality of a child’s nature. • Play provides children with the chance to learn independence, develop self-esteem, explore their physical abilities and have fun. • Play covers everything from amusement to exercise to diversion. • It’s what we do for fun, enjoyment, relaxation, and stress-free pleasure. Play vs Competition • With organized sports, we have simply taken play, put it into an organized form, and added factors like skill development and discipline. • We have now changed the nature of play into competition. • Competition is a contest in which the participants seek the same objective. • When competition dominates, then the original goals of play are eliminated for many Competition • Competition for children must first and foremost be enjoyable, challenging and fun. • Children become more competitive as they grow and age. You can play while competing if you are also having fun • Competition is a dual-edged sword. It can enhance play in some children and ruin it for others.. • Competition instilled with values of fair play, sportsmanship and ethics can build character that will last a lifetime. Why Kids Quit • • • • • • • Sports are no longer fun Needs not being met Made to feel miserable Too much pressure on winning Coach presents negative attitudes Coach was a poor teacher, played favorites Took too much time and wanted to do other things Burnout • Growing weary of the enormous stress and demands placed on a person to perform at high levels • Point of saturation, a vicious revolving door of neverending sport seasons • Children, and parents, fear taking any time off for fear of falling behind and/or being excluded from the team the following season Burnout (2) • Choosing to play only one sport early on deprives the child of the chance to experiment with other sports, to learn and develop a variety of skills, and to work other muscle groups. • Children who suffer burnout are likely candidates to develop a life-long avoidance of physical activity. Putting Kids in Harm’s Way • If unrealistic demands are being placed on children, then only tragedy can result. • They become afraid to make a mistake and that can cripple the productivity and growth of a young person. • When an adult places unrealistic expectations on a child, that is emotional abuse. When emotional abuse is delivered during the growth periods, the expectations and standards may haunt the child for a lifetime. Failure will dominate their existence and devastate their spirits. Decisions • Some children will make the internal decision that competitive team sports are right for them at about the age of 10 to 12. • This now is the time when sports begin, and the idea of play is allowed to become competition, with a call for dedication, training, abiding by rules and all the other commitments they must make in order to become the best they can be. Solutions Parents: • Set up a mandatory pre-season meeting with all the parents – child does not play if parent does not attend the meeting • Develop some strategies to keep parents on track once they understand what is expected of them. • Coach and parents have a clear communication link established to help overcome any misunderstandings. • Outline parents’ rights and responsibilities Solutions (2) Coaches • Coaches should be certified • They must subscribe to a reasonable code of ethics • Be aware of the psychological and emotional needs of the children participating, understand the importance of safety and first aid, conditioning, nutrition, flexibility and strength development. • Be responsible for teaching proper sports techniques Final Thoughts • Primary goal is to make sure that the kids have a good learning experience, develop skills for whatever sport they’re playing, and have a positive fun experience. • 93 % of the communities reported that a coaching certificate mandate had made a positive difference, finding that trained coaches tend to be cooperative, placed greater emphasis of fun and participation, and greatly improved the quality of instruction.