Nowadays, it seems like every child who participates in youth sports is being pushed above and beyond to keep up with the competition. Instead of letting practice alone improve their children’s skills, parents are paying through the nose to ensure that their child is the top athlete they can be.
This stems from many parents’ desires to “one-up” their peers, so to speak. If one parent brags that their child is the captain of the soccer team, another might wistfully recall that their child has no such honor on the basketball team, and decide to push their youthful athlete into extra sessions and practices so that someday, they, the parent might be able to brag to another about the star player in their family.
While ensuring that a child competes to the best of their ability isn’t necessarily something to be looked down upon, doing so at the expense of participation in other activities and sports can actually be detrimental to the young athlete. If a child is forced to spend much of their free time out of school and sports practicing even more, they can miss out on opportunities to grow and learn with their peers in a free, non-sports related way, such as playing tag or manhunt outside.
Additionally, if a parent decides that their child must be the best at whatever one sport they decide upon, the child may miss out on playing other sports that they may end up liking even more than the ones they are best at.
This also plays into the previous point, which is that parents are mapping out their children’s lives much further in advance than seems possible. If the choice has already been made that little Jimmy or little Suzy is going to attend a specific college on a specific sports scholarship, than opportunities to try new things will be few and far between.
When the decisions on what and where to play are taken out of the players’ hands, despite them being the ones doing the playing, they end up losing. Only by letting the children decide for themselves can they truly have a learning experience that can also be fun.
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