Aug 8, 2015

Sporting Youth

I watched several youth basketball games yesterday morning. They are extremely interesting as reflections of culture. I ref youth flag football during the fall and while youth sports all share similar themes and goals, each sport manifests them in different ways. Yet, the fans (i.e. the parents), are always the same...

It's important to know that I was watching the "8 and under" league. These are little kids. The parents were reacting as if they were watching Division 1 competition. I'm all for parents cheering on their kids, but come on,  there is a component of youth sports that is all about having fun. While winning can be a part of that fun, it can't be the only part. There were a few that were especially memorable.

There was the "My baby is a Star" Mom. Every time her child had the ball, she thought he should shoot it. Never mind passing the ball, if he touched it, he should be finishing strong.

There was the "They keep fouling my baby" Mom. She is interesting because she knows enough about the rules and penalties of the game to assume that every little bump, collision, and incidental contact is an egregious assault against her child.

I think my favorite parent was the "Disinterested Father." He sat next to me and only looked up from his phone when his son came over during half time for water and after the game ended when the two of them left.

I think youth sports are important and necessary, but this intensity with which parents drive their kids strikes me as odd almost to the point of dangerous. What happened to having fun when playing youth sports? When did winning overtake sportsmanship, teamwork, and learning to play the game? I think these priorities should be re-examined.

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