Is age fraud a problem in your youth sports world? There were many times when my kids were playing sports when I had real doubts about the age of some of their opponents.
Age fraud means that the athlete–mostly likely the athlete’s parents–lies about the age in order to either gain a competitive edge, appear more attractive to scouts, or even to be eligible for competition. Age fraud can be easy to do when paper records are used to provide a birth date. Paper records can be changed, “lost”, or become unreadable.
In youth sports, age fraud is most commonly used to lie about an older athlete’s age so he can play with younger players, giving him an unfair physical advantage. One well-known example of this was in 2001 when the Little League pitcher Danny Almonte pitched in the Little League World Series and struck out 18 out of the 21 12-year-olds he faced. He was later proven to be 14 years old.
Age Fraud: What does it say to our kids?
There is no acceptable excuse for age fraud in youth sports, or in any sports environment.
The message it sends does not help shape positive character in our children. Instead, we are telling them…
- We must win at all cost, regardless of who we have to step over to do it.
- It’s okay to lie and cheat, as long as you don’t get caught.
- It’s okay to lie and cheat as long as you are helping your team, and yourself.
- It’s okay to lie and cheat as long as you’re really not hurting anyone.
These messages go against everything that youth sports is about. If youth sports is about teaching kids to grow in character while they are growing in skills, then age fraud is sabotaging this effort as it teaches kids that integrity is not important in sports.
What experiences have you and your child had with age fraud in youth sports? How was it resolved?
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