Adult Roles in Youth Sports

Mar 5, 2015

Unfortunately, we’ve gotten used to hearing about scandals in the world of professional sport, but recently professional scandals took a backseat to one from Little League Baseball.

I’m not going to focus on the Chicago story or the boys on that team who did nothing wrong. I want to talk about what I expect from the adults who run youth sport programs.

A lot of problems in youth sport start with adults modeling it after professional sport. In some programs, the competition is too intense, the training is too intense, and even the fans are too intense.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big advocate of youth sport. It can help kids develop physically, socially, and emotionally. It’s a place where they can learn about working hard, playing fair, losing gracefully AND winning gracefully. Oh, and I almost forgot – it should be fun! We’re talking about children playing games, right?

Unfortunately, children can learn negative lessons from sport, like “it’s only wrong if you get caught” and “winning is everything”.

The lessons and values children get from sport depend on the adults in the situation.

Administrators who run organizations, coaches on the fields, and parents in the stands need to understand that the purpose of youth sport isn’t to boost their own personal glory, it’s the healthy, positive development of children.

When the adults in charge commit to putting kids first, wonderful things happen in sport programs. So why don’t we let the kids “play ball” and leave the scandals to the pros.

I'm Paul Wright, and that's my perspective.