Youth Sports: Still a good idea?

Growing up I was more of a mathalete than an athelete. An akward relationship with sports equipment killed my sports dreams before they started. How many times can a girl get bopped on the head with a volleyball before she gives up?

Hopefully my kids don’t inherit my allergic reaction to sports. I like the idea of them getting exercise and working with a team towards a common goal.

Organized sports would also add another layer to their college applications. But I wonder if the cost to play is worth the price of admission.

Are youth sports still a good idea? Photo

Exposure to Adults Behaving Badly

I thought it was a fluke the first time I heard of a parent and coach coming to blows at a youth sporting event. Color me niave. Just put “bad sports parent” into a YouTube search. Better yet, don’t look it up. It’ll just give you a head cramp.

Esquire Network’s docuseries, “Friday Night Tykes” doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of youth sports. The show, which follows several San Antonio youth football teams, made recent news for the suspension of two coaches. According to CNN reports, one coach was suspended for encouraging profanity, while the other was suspended for instructing players to hit their opponents in the head.

Check out the CNN video below:

As of this writing, The Esquire Network has the entire first episode of “Friday Night Tykes” posted on its website. Forgive me, but I won’t be linking to said first episode.

I can’t imagine the thought process of adults who go crazy over youth sports. Is it because of other life stressors outside the game itself that push them over the edge?

Are they really so wrapped up in an 8-year-old’s football game that they lose control?

I suspect it could be something far more disturbing.

The only thing worse than an adult who berates, abuses, and misdirects a child, is an adult who thinks that they are helping the child with such behavior.

I’m not a member of the every-kid-gets-a-trophy club.

Life is competitive. Kids have to learn how to thrive in a competitive world. That being said, some coaches and parents aren’t teaching kids how to compete. They are teaching them to win at all cost.

I thought sports were supposed to be fun

Youth participation is down in basketball, soccer, baseball and football, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. Experts cite various reasons for the decline including cuts in physical education courses, increased pressure on child athletes, and the popularity of social media and video games.

To summarize one expert in the Wall Street report: The search for elite athletes, overworking kids, and making student athletes specialize in a single sport have made sports less fun.

So, will my kids play sports?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not down on youth sports. Even when you consider concussions and other sports injuries, I believe that inactivity poses a greater health risk for many kids.

Will my kids play organized sports? Well I was hoping you’d give me your two cents. Hop to it.

Readers: Are organized sports still a good idea for kids? What’s the kids and sports scene at your house? Any thoughts on Friday Night Tykes? Leave a comment below.


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About Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson is a Dallas-based freelance writer and college planning evangelist. When she's not helping parents avoid the college sneak up, you can find her writing for small business clients or chomping away at nonfiction books (and pistachios).


Youth Sports: Still a good idea? — 17 Comments

  1. My middle kid plays soccer. The league he belongs to promotes skill development and fun. We’ve had good luck with coaches who buy into that. However, one season we were involved was completely awful because the parents were horrid! One parent yelled at my husband (who was helping to coach) because he said “this is a critical year for skill development!” Did I mention these kids were six?!?!
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted…Old School Blogging: Valentine’s Day Style!My Profile

  2. I don’t have kids (yet!) but I think as long as they want to play sports and enjoy doing it, I’ll put them on teams. If they want to do a rec league, fine. Competitive, fine. Traveling, fine. I think the level (and age) of play definitely affects how the parents react- which is why to start with, my kids will always just be in the rec leagues that are more easy-going. If they choose to specialize and focus more on one sport, then they can play in whatever league they want as long as they have fun!
    Samantha Angell recently posted…Either way, I win!My Profile

    • Good point Samantha. A rec league would probably give my kids the exercise and fun I’m after, without as much of the competition. Of course, if they get that competitive itch, it will be hard for me to say no. I’m glad you stopped in.

  3. I think you raise such valid concerns. My daughter ice skated. My son played sports his entire life. He now coaches a high school girls’ varsity basketball team & high school flag football team. I think as parents we need to get to know the coaches. Be there. Be involved. There were surely times in which my husband & I disagreed with a coach. We met privately, unbeknownst to our child and/or other parents, to share our concerns. There was never a time we were not listened to & our opinions respected. It really needs to be a relationship of all parties involved. I would never force a child to play sports but if they wanted to, as a parent, I would be informed & involved. Thank you for sharing this post at the SITS as I truly enjoyed reading it. Have a great weekend!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…Of Basketball, Winter & SuperheroesMy Profile

    • Thank you for stopping in Joanne. I like the idea of meeting with the coach privately to work out any disagreements. As you point out, it’s important to research who will be working with your child on the front end, rather than after their is an issue. I’ll be vetting coaches like any other teacher because that’s essentially what they are.

  4. I am a huge advocate for organized sports. You make some great points about why they aren’t as attractive as they once were, but the truth is that parents can affect the experience so we have the power to change what is wrong with them if we feel strongly enough about it. I like my kids to get the physical activity, the camaraderie, and the education about sportsmanship that in many ways are ONLY available through organized sports. To combat the hyper competition you find in many sports, I enroll them in recreation leagues instead of competitive leagues. To guard against bad parent behavior, I kindly ask the offending parent to consider the little eyes upon them and if that is unsuccessful, I report them to the league. I also make sure my kids understand that even though a grown up is acting that way, it is still bad behavior. So glad I found you on the SITS share fest. I love the dialogue you are inspiring here!
    Corinne recently posted…#GetHimFed Party 23My Profile

  5. This is something I’ve had on my mind a lot lately. Not because my kids are in sports (totally NOT their thing!) but because a lot of their friends are. To me, the biggest drawback of sports is the TIME investment. I know so many of my friends who have kids in sports and this becomes their entire LIFE. I think that’s ridiculous! Used to be it was once or twice a week for sports, no more. Now it’s hours and hours a day, just about every day. I think that’s awful. How can you possibly raise a well-rounded, balanced kid with an insane schedule like that? I think these parents need to stand up to these coaches and say no. I’m not putting my kid into your program with a schedule like that. But the problem is there is a line of 50 kids behind them who will do it – I’m mystified as to why.

    My advice – Scouts. I realized I’m a little prejudiced because I am a BSA Scout leader, but I think the advantages the Scouting program offers are so much of a better return on investment than any sports program. Especially if you can find a really well-run Scout program. They learn citizenship, responsibility, cooperation, leadership, respect, self-reliance, and a ton of other great things like camping, cooking, climbing, and so much else. And it’s not a crazy investment of time like sports. #SITSSharefest
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  6. Wow, that was an insightful article, and the men on that show are per the news media under investigation and or have been charged.

    That said I am raising two girls to do whatever they set their minds to. So when my oldest F was in fifth grade (she is a Junior in High School now) said she had made the team. I scratched my head…. What team, there are none in fifth grade. I made the wrestling team…. I had no idea there was a girls team, mum there isn’t it is a coed team. She made the coed, 48 boys and her…… She wrestled for 4 years, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th. Made Regionals twice and sectionals once. The boys accepted her, and took her under their wing. She loved it and it taught her team spirit and team support. Only once was she denied a match as a boy refused to wrestle a girl. She now runs cross country and track and has competed at the Junior Olympics USATF….
    All of her coaches have been nothing but supporting and encouraging. Calling her when she is injured, holding her up when she couldn’t compete. Her latest set of coaches are just THE BEST. I leave the coaching to them and I am the mum that says the following: I love to come and watch you run, wow you put so much effort into that, you were amazing today. If she needs anything else that is for her coach to state.
    My youngest has a passion for horses. If she could move into the barn she would… Her trainers have been amazing and the one that she has had for the last 2.5 years, well lets just say if she could move into the barn it would be her dream come true. She has also played boys LaCrosse. 2 seasons of it and she had a blast and again the coaches were nothing but uplifting. I was also team mom for those seasons, it was awesome to watch her grow as a team player.
    My advice as I ramble on is that let them try it out, let them have fun and let them develop their passions. My teen runs for fun???? I can’t wrap my mind around that and the youngest, well we just got over two cold snaps of -45 and she begged to go to the barn…. Good luck……
    Ray recently posted…Life With GirlsMy Profile

    • Ray, thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I would have been scratching my head at wrestling too. It sounds like your daughter brought a unique flavor to the team. I’m happy to hear so many positive stories about coaches. Wresting, track, lacrosse, horses–your girls sure must keep you on your toes.

  7. Well, you know my opinion. Youth sports brings a lot more positives than negatives. My kids play soccer year round, but they also play basketball (oldest), ski and snowboard (all), race BMX bikes (youngest), run (middle and youngest). My husband and I ran track and country in college, so sports is just ingrained in our family. But yes, I have seen plenty of parents behaving badly…I’ve written about it a couple times. It really can get ridiculous. And the money…I can’t even tell you how much money we spend on soccer. I don’t even want to know. I’m certain we could have financed at least a year of college if not more. It’s crazy!
    Michelle recently posted…Pie for Dinner! 14 Recipes to Please Your Comfort Food CravingsMy Profile

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