Interesting takes on sports parenting…

Here’s an article I found – thought I’d share.

vicarious title2A recently completed national study showed that kids around the country are showing less enthusiasm for organized youth sports and even quitting altogether, causing a ripple effect on many levels. The most dramatic consequence was found to be the tragic toll it is taking on parents – there is a marked decline in the adult experience with youth sports.

“Nobody seems the have the parents’ feelings foremost in mind anymore,” says researcher Jan Handler, a professor of sports science from the University of the Pacific. “When kids give up sports, or don’t play up to expectations, this can be an incredible blow to their parents. A lot of moms and dads are counting on their children to earn college athletic scholarships or get drafted into professional sports. When that doesn’t happen, the effects can be traumatic.”

bagheadfanMany parents are noticing disturbing signs in their kids’ behavior at an early age. Disgruntled dad Leonard Hartung of Skokie, Illinois, became aware his of son’s poor attitude during his second year in t-ball. “He said he wasn’t having any fun,” said Hartung. “I told him, ‘Hey, fun is for losers!’ Now he’s ten and he isn’t going to sign up this summer. He’s joining the Boy Scouts instead. I mean, what am I supposed to do now? I don’t like hiking.”

In a response to kids who are less aggressive, less talented, or both, there has been a recent movement toward leagues that focus more on involvement than competition in many cities. Many sports parents are observing a major shift in how practices are conducted and games are played; and they don’t like what they see. In a soccer league in Chappaqua, New York, called Soccer Working for Inclusion, Motivation and Participation (S-WIMP), practices include lessons on “niceness” and “compassion” instead of skill-building drills or scrimmages.  They don’t keep score during games; instead, teams are awarded “points” for showing a good attitude or displaying sportsmanship. Kids can redeem their points for orange slices and juice boxes after the game – but everyone gets the same amount of snacks no matter how many points they accumulate anyway.

“It’s pretty sad,” said Barbara Thurston, a disheartened mother of a 12-year-old girl in the league. “My kid scored a goal once and I was going nuts, but everybody else just frowned at her. And she didn’t get a snack after the game. So she doesn’t even try to score anymore. The girl that got the MVP award last season—she didn’t score a single goal all year. She was just really good and helping pick up after games.”

Parents of older failing athletes are suffering as well. Many of those that invested heavily in time and money for their kids’ athletic careers at an early age only to have them turn out to be average athletes, at best, are losing hope. Phillip Rosales of Grand Forks, North Dakota, even moved his family into a smaller school district to give his oldest son a better chance of making the high school basketball team.

“Yeah, he plays, but man; he’s just not very good,” Rosales explained. “Never has been. I don’t understand it – I was awesome back in the day. At first I blamed all his coaches, of course. But that’s not it, I guess. All the money I spent on private coaches and expensive camps; down the tubes. I always figured I’d get that back when he got his rookie contract.”

“There just doesn’t seem to be a place for pushy, over-the-top parents anymore,” said Frank Lee of Franklin, Tennessee, who has started a support group for disenfranchised sports parents called Moms and Dads Sick of Kids’ Sports (MADSOKS). Lee had three children that competed in youth sports, but never in high school.

“Yeah, I was hard on my kids to perform, and they didn’t like it,” he explained. “Is that why they quit? Well, that’s what they said, but they just never got good at anything. I really should have been harder on them. Hey, life in the real world sucks. The sooner kids learn that, the better off they will be.”

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