There’s a lot wrong with youth sports.
So we’re being told, over and over and over again. Every time I get online I see a new story about a parent gone mad or kids getting burned out. That culture of negativity sparks many conversations about youth sports and “the way it used to be” or “when I was little and played youth sports….”
I am a very sentimental person and I believe there’s a time and a place for nostalgia, but it’s time to stop idealizing the past, slandering the present, and bemoaning the future of youth sports.
Can I just say it bluntly?
Stop complaining about the fact that youth sports today has taken a drastic wrong turn, and start doing something about it.
Youth Sports: “The Way We Were”
I’ll indulge you a trip down memory lane one last time in this post. But let’s do it together, and let’s do it for the purpose of identifying what it was that made the past of youth sports so idyllic.
- Kids used to play youth sports because they wanted to have fun.
- Sports were seen as a way to get exercise, have fun, make friends and not as a way to earn a college scholarship.
- There was a lot less structure and parental influence in youth sports, thus more pickup games and spontaneity.
- It didn’t used to cost an arm and a leg to play youth sports.
And just in case you’ve forgotten, youth sports “back then” also included athletes who wanted to win and who wanted to improve their skills.
Youth Sports: Today’s Reality
As you well know, youth sports today looks much differently than it did “back then.” I don’t know enough about all the history to pinpoint where it started taking a wrong turn, but I do know this: we are where we are and the only option we have before us is to move ahead in the new normal.
If you are tired of the negativity, the pushy parents, the win-at-all-cost attitude, then instead of running the other direction, instead of pulling your child out of youth sports altogether, be a voice for positive change.
Be the parent who doesn’t complain to the coach.
Be the parent who supports players on both teams.
Be the parent who encourage players, win or lose.
Be the parent who is not so in love with victory, that you overlook the effort given.
Don’t wait for leaders to legislate safety; make sure that your child’s team is doing what it can to keep kids safe.
Don’t wait for leaders to hold conferences that address youth sports problems; set a positive example for your child, for your team, for your community.
I love what Mother Theresa said:
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
Let’s top writing books, articles and movies about all that’s wrong with youth sports, and start talking about what we can be doing to make youth sports right. Let’s make more of an effort to recognize the good that is in youth sports. It is out there, you know. It’s just that we’re so busy complaining about the negative stuff and worrying about all that can go wrong that we’re drowning out the positive that does exist in youth sports.
I’m tired of the complaining and bashing. How about you?
If so, it’s time for you to become part of the Positive Sports parenting tribe!
Join with parents and coaches around the world who want to be a voice for positive change in youth sports!
Here’s how you can become part of the positive sports parenting tribe:
- Get a weekly parenting newsletter with tips for raising kids with character in sports and in life. When you sign up, you’ll receive my free report: Sportsparents’ Guide: 55 time & money-saving tips guaranteed to make your life easier.
- Arm yourself with sports parenting tools from my Sportsparenting Survival Guide series.
- Get parenting inspiration and tips on my Sportsparenting Facebook Page, Pinterest Page, or Google Plus Page.
- Spread the word about the power of positive sports parenting and encourage other parents to join the positive sports parenting tribe.