The Youth Sports ‘Arms Race’
Youth sports are more competitive than ever. A recent article by the Associated Press likens it to an “athletic arms race”. Despite this competitiveness, participation in youth sports has dropped in the past decade. Where’s the disconnect?
According to the article, there are more kids playing sports due to an increase in population but fewer available roster spots on High School teams due to budget cuts and other reasons. This leads to increased competition, especially at younger ages, in order to compete for roster spots in High School and with clubs.
One byproduct of this hyper-competitiveness is that more kids will give up a sport sooner because they won’t get playing time or even make the team as they get older. Many forget, unfortunately, that the benefits of playing sports include much more than winning a championship. Aside from the fitness benefits, young players learn leadership skills, motor skills, how to be part of a team, and lots more.
Responsibility of Parents & Organizations
Realizing these “other” benefits is most important. Both parents and youth sports organizations must understand that participation is key – even if a child isn’t the best athlete, they still stand to gain a multitude of benefits from continued participation.
Does your child and/or organization encourage participation? What mechanisms are used to engage the non-elite athletes?