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Sports in America, Playing is supposed to be Fun

By       Message Dave Lefcourt     Permalink
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From 130607-A-JE145-002
130607-A-JE145-002 by Rail Gunners

A pick up game of basketball

This is going to be a departure of what's usually found in this space.

Actually the departure is "unusual" i.e. it has to do with sports (athletics) in this country, particularly the coaching and parental aspects of it.

Sports may or may not be a religion in America but surely one would be hard put to deny its importance to many of its people.

From recreational sports for kids to top level collegiate and professional sports competition it's a mania that has captured many people's imaginations.

Now whether that manias importance is good or bad is a whole other matter that won't be the focus of this short piece.

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What will be the focus are some of the things that are affecting the athletes at all levels particularly as it pertains to parents and the coaches.

But before going any further lets consider; kids participating in sports by and of itself is a good thing, not only for boys but girls as well.

Since Title 9 was enacted in the early 1970's which basically said at the college level women's sports must have equal status and equal numbers of teams and participants as with men's sports. One could legitimately argue the sports scene still isn't perfectly equal, (with football being the outlier), but what Title 9 has done is increase girls participation in all sports catapulting women and girls to play and compete at all levels.    

And with girls (as well as boys) participation exploding there are the parents of these kids. Unless you haven't noticed, the parents of today are fully engaged in their kid's sports participation with most supportive of them.

Then there are those parents who put undue pressure on their kids, are critical, some even demeaning while others seem to live vicariously through their kids performance particularly if they don't achieve a high score (gymnastics) along with their kids winning and losing in competitive teams sports.

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What drives such parents to be so critical even to the point where a 10 year old girl is left crying over her parent's criticizing her because she made a simple mistake and let in a goal (soccer) is completely uncalled for. It's little wonder why some kids quit playing once they've reached adolescence.

The other focus here has to do with the coaching, again at all levels, from kids beginning to compete at age 9, to highly competitive college sports.

From my perspective there are two simple constants regarding kids and sports which involves their ability and the fun of playing. They go hand in hand; if one has the ability to play a sport it is naturally fun.

Besides the parents of today there are the coaches and some of them seem to forget why they began playing sports themselves. Sports are supposed to be fun and why a kid wants to play in the first place. And if he (she) was good at it they wanted to play competitively.

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