Child athletes pushed too hard

By Amanda Finnegan
November 11, 2005

Heckling fans, endless strings of profanity and arguments with the officials. What seems like the average scene at any professional sporting event has made a home within youth sports. What is even more disturbing is that these acts are coming from none other but the parents of these young players.

The mind set of being the best and winning every game is being pushed upon young children at an extremely young age. With so many parents being kicked out of games and their children flat-out asking them not to show up because of the fear of embarrassment, the fine line between motivation and pressure is being danced-on heavily.

Going home to my 10-year-old brother’s soccer game, I was appalled to see the sideline extravaganza by parents. Parents were critiquing the young players with no shame or remorse. Coaches were pulling kids out who weren’t playing up to championship standards and replacing them with those who could. The feelings of the players were not being taken into consideration, only the will to win.

With long practice hours on weekends and nights and the pressure to play through painful injuries, it’s no wonder why kids are burning out so young. Parents are shelling out the big bucks to make sure their kids have the best trainers and are going to the best camps. They have become so consumed with worrying about whether they are nurturing the next A-Rod or Mia Hamm that they forget to ask their kids the important question: “Are you still having fun?”

The desire for a plastic gold-painted trophy on a family’s mantel has become greater in parents more and more these days. Parents are teaching their children that being the fastest and the most skilled is the most important aspect of sports instead of emphasizing of the camaraderie between teammates and memories that could be made in youth sports. Kids are becoming concerned with adult athlete issues that their tiny minds and bodies are not ready for.

When a kid is asked whether they would rather be on the A-team in their league or on a team with their best friends, I can almost guarantee the answer will be to be with their friends.

Youth sports have become more about parents living vicariously through their children than kids just having a good time. With the video game craze and childhood obesity sweeping the nation, the last thing parents need is to do is to push their children further away from youth sports. Parents need to sit back and enjoy watching their children play a game that they love and set a good example. But most importantly, parents need to teach their children that the true goal is to have fun.

Posted to the web by Brian Coary

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Amanda Finnegan

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