ASK THE KIDS, ITS THEIR SPORT NOT YOURS

Category: 2012 Published: Wednesday, 02 May 2012

Have you asked the kids if winning are why they play youth sports? WE HAVE! It's their sport. Here's what a majority answer. They play for fun! What is being advocated by many people is an extrinsic reward on a child’s internal development before they are fully developed. The test, winning a game, takes priority in terms of its importance to the child versus development?  Does the child who sits up first, crawls first, walks first, automatically become the fastest child? NO!

       Extrinsic rewards may help a few but when did we start teaching to the few. The rewards’ start to lose their meaning and the children need more and more of them with less and less satisfaction. Not unlike an addiction.
        Education in life and sports does not always have to be so cut and dried at an early age. How many more lessons are taught before a test is given? How many teachers ask for more time to plan lessons and work with their children before they give a test?
      Rewarding someone when they don’t do well can be just as  harmful as giving a trophy to a child  just because he participated How many games are not competitive, or are only a few really good players getting most of the playing time, just because they are better at an early age?.With many youth sports teams set up so that better players are on one team and then played at the expense of the other children just to win a meaningless game. This victory or win is going to affect the way they deal with their friends, co workers, spouse, and children later on in life. They will believe, because they were trained this way to put more value on self than community. So many games against so many opponents and the kids are pressured to win, the parents and organizations buy into it and the parents support it. It sets a precedent. I’m not for trophies for anyone.
What happened to the value of a job well done? The kids know when they get whupped; they know when they played well. The scoreboard you refer to is mostly for adults. The kids don’t care 10 minutes after the game is over. They change their minds all the time. If you are talking anything under varsity level high school development takes precedent over winning.
75% of all the 10 year old kids playing youth sports quit by the time they are 13. Winning and losing at an early age does nothing to prepare them for life. Getting along with each other is way more valuable and happens way more often in their lives, and thus is way more important to learn.
       I coached for 21 years at the collegiate level and never once talked to the kids about winning. I graduated 28 doctors and lawyers and 24 engineers. I thought that’s how we kept score. This experiment that I called teaching has culminated in over 30 championships for the teams I coached and played on. The championships we won pale in comparison to the lives we changed. That comes from notes from my players.
      The players rarely talk about the championships when I see them or hear from them. It’s always about the journey. Inter team competition is what motivated us. True completion is not resolved by the score at the end of the game, but in giving your all against the sport with your teammates.
      If you insist on comparing youth sports to the workplace, then let’s do it. When you first get a job are you tested on how well you do it? Doesn’t the boss stress getting along and working together? Isn't most of you time spent getting along with instead of competing with co-workers and other companies? You get a paycheck once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month. That is your trophy!
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