Balancing the Desire to Win with Just Having Fun
There are a number of reasons why parents encourage their children to play youth sports; from physical fitness, to engaging in recreational activities, to truly enjoying the sport themselves and hoping their children succeed. While not every child has a natural talent for sports, every parent hopes that their child is going to be the one who hits the game-winning home run and is carried off the field by their teammates.
Unfortunately, this trend has resulted in children giving up organized team sports in record numbers. Nearly 70% of all kids will not participate in an organized sport after the age of 13.
Why? The issue has been debated for a long time, but many feel like youth programs are more results-oriented and competitive than they are fun. In other words, the only kids who end up sticking with the sport are the ones that are very good at it.
Are Professional Sports Fun?
They are for spectators, but are the players having fun? It’s a difficult question because there’s so much pressure put on them to succeed. When they’re doing well, they are celebrated, but when they’re doing poorly, it’s not so fun. That’s because professional sports are a results-oriented league. No one cares if you’re building character when your team is win-less. It’s stressful, difficult, and often emotionally turbulent.
While there’s a place for competitive youth sports that are results-oriented, we want to be more proactive in teaching our kids to enjoy the game regardless of whether they win or lose. In other words, there’s a place for competitive youth sports as well as those that are just focused on having fun.
Fun Youth Sports for Children
For children under 10, youth sports should be about having a good time and enjoying the experience. There’s a time to learn about the game, build character, learn teamwork, sportsmanship, and other necessary skills that we all use on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not we play sports later in life. Much of the problem with today’s youth programs is that parents and coaches have forgotten where to draw the line.
This has created a situation where the children dread the practices and games, explaining why they opt out of sports at a young age. There’s no reason for there to be any pressure involved in the process. Parents hope their kids turn out to be the next famous athlete, but when they criticize them for making a mistake in a game, it robs the child of their ability to enjoy the process. When that happens the journey, is over.
While there are competitive leagues for youths that show an aptitude for the game, the majority of leagues out there for children are meant to be recreational. It’s important for both parents and coaches to recognize that not every league is about bringing home a title.