There’s a virus infecting youth sports. Do you see it?
Last week, there was a virus going around my city. My daughter was home from school (she’s a kindergarten teacher”) for 2 1/2 days because she caught the virus.
But viruses are not privy to bodies; sometimes they infect minds too. In fact, the attitudes and emotions of others are as contagious as any illness.
It might sound strange, but you can actually “catch” emotions like a virus–positive or negative. Your emotional and chemical makeup can be downgraded when you hang out with the wrong kids of people. Research on sports teams has revealed that even when a team has an amazing win-loss record the team can have a “depressed” outlook if certain emotionally expressive teammates are struggling or have terrible attitudes. (Taken from a great book called Broken Escalators by Peter Haas)
Youth sports has been infected by a virus–the symptoms are many. They include pushy parenting behavior, coaches who are not making youth sports all about the kids, and companies who only see $$$ when it comes to parents and kids in sports.
Sometimes doctors cannot pin down the exact name of the virus that infects a body, and the same is true for youth sports. There are many roots to the problem and I for one, do not know when it all started going awry. But the virus is there and many are doubtful if it will ever go away.
Perhaps you feel as if you are fighting the virus too, and it’s kinda like fighting a huge octopus. He has 8 arms and you have 2, so you are constantly feeling outmatched.
Maybe we’ve gone too far down the viral road and will never be fully back to where we’d like to be where youth sports is totally all about kids having fun in empty lots and learning sports the organic way. But this is no time to fold up camp and go home. The battle is big, but there are ways to fight back.
Here’s my plan:
- Recognize that it starts with YOU. As the old song goes, it only takes a spark to get a fire going. One person can influence another and then the team, then the league, then the community. Attitudes are contagious.
- Be bold. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t get sucked into the culture that tells you must do things a certain way if your child is to succeed.
- Stop buying into the con that you have to spend tons of money. You don’t. There are other ways to do things. For instance, my friend Craig Haworth from Winning Youth Coaching gives a detailed plan for cutting down on travel sports costs. And my friends at Flipgive give you an amazing fundraising tool that will take a huge burden off of you.
- Let your child own it. It’s YOUTH sports, after all. Let her fight her own battles, choose the sports she wants to play, push herself to improve.
- Stop zooming in. When you do that, you’re only focused on this quarter, this game, even this season. Zoom out: try to see the bigger picture of your child’s youth sports experience. What will matter in 5, 10 or even 15 years?
These are the antidotes to the virus in youth sports. As you take medicine daily when you are sick, remind yourself of them daily. Consuming these truths are the only way you will stave off the virus.
Share your “medicine” with other sports parents and coaches. Your positivity is just as contagious as the negative voices that are making youth sports sick.
If you are ready to fight the virus head-on, I’ve got a 4-part plan to get you going. Find out more.
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