Although they are meant to be fun, wholesome and health-conscious activities for children, youth sports have a number of problems that go along with them.
One problem is parents who take over the game or sport for their child, and dictate every action of their young athlete’s career. Youth sports are supposed to be enjoyed by the youth, hence the name. However, some parents take their role of hoping to ensure the best outcome for their child to the extreme, yelling at referees, berating coaches and making everything about them instead of their child.
An extreme example of this happened when one parent sued a track team for $40 million because his son got cut from the team. Chances are, the son was disappointed at being cut, but wasn’t the one who made the decision to sue. Rather, one would think that the son’s father came up with the idea and put the spotlight on himself, stealing the show so to speak. While some may think the father had his son’s best interests at heart and was trying to ensure he got into a good college, there’s a possibility that some colleges would hear of the family’s reputation and discount them immediately, as fair or unfair as that may be.
Parents making every decision leads to another problem, where children don’t have the chance to make and learn from their mistakes. If an athlete quits his or her team in a fit of rage, then decides he or she wants to come back, they will have to live with the decision the coach makes, whether it is the outcome he or she wanted or not. Despite the result, this learning experience will serve the young athlete well later in life, as they will learn to be a little more rational when it comes to making decisions.
A third problem is that coaches on paid teams can sometimes allow a player to make the roster, but never play them. Not only is this a waste of potential talent, but is a waste of the underplayed athlete’s parents’ money. It is the responsibility of the coach to be up front about the potential for playing time. Many coaches are considered role models for children, so being honest would make a good example for the young athletes to learn from.
A fourth problem is that some youth sports league cater to parents instead of children. While some rules are in place to ensure the fairness of the league, there are others that should be bent in extenuating circumstances. For example, if a league rule states that a player cannot transfer teams under any circumstances, but one player’s parents are moving them far away for work, the child could be stuck in limbo. If the league were to cater to the child as it should, the rule could be bent, but if it were to cater to adults (as many often do), the rule may not be bent, in the interests of “fairness.”
Unless these problems are addressed, youth sports may continue to be a hyper-competitive landscape of burnt out athletes instead of a fun diversion from school, like they should be.