Sunday, December 03, 2006

To the Over-Competitive Youth Sports Coach

Dear Parent/Coach,

I’m glad that you are supporting young children and getting them involved in organized youth sports. I’m sure you were a great athlete when you were their age and would have gone pro if it weren’t for some coach who “had it in for you”, so you were obviously correct when you yelled at that teenage umpire. I am also pretty sure that you have a great eye for talent; you were spot on when you told your team, and the crowd for that matter, to foul number 10 because he can’t make free throws. Maybe you should become a Scout for some NBA team, with an eye such as yours. I hope your resume is ready, because when you beat that team by 4 touchdowns and didn’t rest your starters, I’m sure a BCS qualifying school had their Athletic Director out there to scout your coaching abilities.

You see, parents, you really are doing most of the kids a favor. Only playing them the minimum amount of time during the game is just letting the kids realize that they are not good enough and should quit while they are young. Why let them waste their time running around fields and gyms with their friends when they could focus on something that they are good at? Plus, if you played everyone equally, you might not have that winning record; which is ultimately more important than a kid learning new skills, making friends, and challenging themselves personally, physically, and emotionally.

Let me also remind you, parents, that you are ruining youth sports by creating a generation of children who no longer want to play because their coaches are assholes. This year alone, you have intentionally walked the team’s best hitter so that you could pitch to the kid recovering from cancer; you have tackled a kid on the football field because you thought he was a cheap-shot; you fought the referee and had the game cancelled; and you have made it so that soccer leagues are starting “Silent Saturdays” where the kids can finally play and not have to listen to you, or any other parents, constantly yelling at them.

Here is a hint for you, parents. You had your turn to play youth sports, now let your kids have theirs. Living vicariously through your child’s successes or failures does not make you an involved parent, it makes you an embarrassment to your kid. They will never tell you this, so I will; because they have told me. Do you want to know why your kid plays youth sports? Here are the top 10 reasons reported by youth themselves (ranked by boys’ responses, girls’ ranking shown in parenthesis):
1.To Have Fun (1)
2.To Do Something I’m Good At (5)
3.To Improve My Skills (4)
4.For The Excitement of Competition (7)
5.To Stay In Shape (2)
6.For The Challenge of Competition (10)
7.To Get Exercise (3)
8.To Learn New Skills (6)
9.To Play as Part of a Team (8)
10.To Go To a Higher Level of Competition (n/a)
Girls mention #9 as To Make New Friends

That’s right, they did not mention winning or losing. Kids are telling us what your job description is: to make it fun, to improve their skills, to challenge them, and to make them feel part of a team. Your kids will have plenty of time for competition when they get older, that is, if you let them have the opportunity to not quit before they get older.

For all of you parents who are doing the right thing by coaching youth sports, I applaud you, and for those of you who continue to look to pad your coaching resume please do kids a favor and quit…I’m sure that there is something you can do that you are good at, you’re still young.

And by the way, I already know what you are saying, so don’t respond. I have your answer: Competition and sports does not create character, it exposes character (a trait that is supposed to be instilled and fostered by their parents, so thanks again for yelling at the teenage umpire).


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