Youth sports used to be about the children participating in them. The more fun a player had, the better it was. Nowadays, youth sports have become an outlet for parents’ desperate need to win, as many live vicariously through their children and their accomplishments.
Oftentimes, parents equate their worth with how their child does on the field. Some feel no greater pleasure than telling a peer that their child is getting a full scholarship for athletics in order to feel a sense of superiority or power over the other. This, in the opinions of many, has caused youth sports to become more about the parents than the players themselves.
Furthermore, some parents hope to experience the thrill of winning a championship through their young charges, something that perhaps they were never able to enjoy in their childhood. This is called achievement by proxy syndrome, and is also something that is rampant in today’s society.
Youth sports have become the centerpiece of society for some families, with the games and practices taking precedence over everything else, including the wants of the children and rest of the family. With sports dominating the agenda for the weekend, there is less time to take a trip to the pool or visit the local landmark, which can cause some resentment of the sport to build, when the opposite should be true: it should just be about having fun.
Other adults take things one step further, hoping to profit off of a child or overbearing parents by offering additional practices or training or games. As long as there are parents willing to pay through the nose to ensure their young athlete has the maximum amount of training, so too will there be those looking to make money off of it.
Whatever happened to the days of intramural sports, where winning was the objective, but fun was most often the result? They have gone the way of the dinosaur, with hyper-competitive teams and leagues stepping seamlessly into their spot. The unfortunate side-effect of this is that some children burn out of sports at a young age, setting aside something that should be enjoyable because it so too much work. Indeed, research shows that nearly 80 percent of all children who play adult-organized youth sports drop out by the time they’re 13.
This is a disappointing trend, as youth sports are a great way to make and keep friends, while also participating in a healthy and fun activity. Hopefully, parents will begin to realize this and start to take the wants and needs of their children into consideration before their quest for glory turns a previously enjoyable pursuit into a dreaded one.