“Did you have fun”? That is a question that is not asked enough in youth sports. When I child is picked up from practice or a game, man times a parent will ask them “Did you win”?. That is a harmless questions for the most part but if a child hears that first, they believe it was the most important aspect of participating in youth sports.
Another worrisome part of youth sports on culture is parental and societal obsession on elitism. It has become a accepted norm in the United States. We not only want what is best for our children but we want them to stand out and be the best of the best. Look at many AAU sports in the USA and that rings true. The programs running them only the best need apply. Everyone can tryout. But if you are not good enough, you won’t get any attention at tryouts. Evaluators may shut you out after one missed shot or bad pass. Perfection is their standard. This translates into a child feeling they aren’t good enough and must take part in less known programs if they wish to compete. It’s all about what society deems important. The child is told they are good enough to watch our games and participate from their couch.
Did You Have Fun?
It’s time to decrease competition and promote sports and health fitness for all American children. The European model of youth sports seems to be working fine. Many European countries have a national sports and fitness policy. They mandate that coaches get certification and to handle a sports program. Not just some overzealous, college scholarship seeking parent or money grabbing entrepreneur that sees a chance to make a buck off an obsessed nation with the best.
This is a more inclusive approach and doesn’t cut children at 8 years of age but keeps them inclusive. European children, it has been noted, stay involved in sports for a much longer time in their life.
The United States sports scene must dramatically decrease the emphasis on competition and winning. That won’t happen because too many people are making too much money on parents, grandparents and children sports. They don’t want to kill their cash cow.
Winning is an obsession in the United States. That is in all veins of life. From our sports to our politics to our constant use of everyone getting a trophy. So what now?
Where do we go from here? Several options I have listed above.But let’s get back to informal sports and free play for kids with fitness and fun. Face it, organized sports is not getting the job done. We all agree that children sports programs should be fun.
If children are enjoying their sports experience, the other parts will be aligned for them.
But it takes one bad coach and/or a rabid parent that is yelling at their child to be more aggressive. If a child has to listen to a macho know-it-all coach for hours on end at practices and are constantly yelling and lecturing on “proper technique” and are made to run,jump and throw for hours until their bodies hurt, then you can bet they aren’t having fun. Let’s be sure to ask them. “Did you have fun”?
The author– Tom Knuppel is a retired schoolteacher and coach. He has seen the boom of AAU basketball from the time his son played to that of his grandson and noted the dramatic difference, Most involve greediness and money grabbing along with lack of skills promotion. AAU Sports has become a big business that has joined with the bigger companies for financial assistance and advertising opportunities.