Why Johnny Hates Sports

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
• All children must have a safe, positive and meaningful
experience from sports
• Youth sports were intended for fun, relaxation and
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
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
• 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
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
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
• 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
• 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
• Immature parents don’t take responsibility, but
blame the referee, coach or others for the
• 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 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 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
• 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
• 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.
• 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.
• 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 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
• 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.