Winning A Game Will Never Be Worth Losing Love For The Sport

Winning A Game Will Never Be Worth Losing Your Love Of The Sport

I hate to break it to you, coaches, but this isn't the Olympics or the MLB.

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Growing up, being a softball and volleyball player was part of my identity and playing these sports was what I loved to do most. I began playing because the idea of devoting my time to a hobby with a large number of my friends was extremely intriguing. The time commitment was unproblematic because there was truly nothing else I would rather do.

I loved attending practices and games and would even become disheartened if I had to miss one. Practices were the time of day where I could release all of my built up stress because they were always filled with laughter and smiles.

Playing sports as a child, it didn't matter to me or my teammates if we won or lost. We played because we loved the sport and doing it together. We used losses as a learning experience to address our downfalls, but wouldn't let it affect us.

Being the worst team in the league wouldn't make us want to quit because it was actually humorous to us. Teammates formed incredible friendships no matter what level of playing they were at because nobody felt the need to compare themselves to another member of the group. We were all there to assist one another, not to tear each other down.

It's a shame to me that the nature of sports has changed so drastically to the extent that sports-related memories were once my fondest and could now be considered my worst.

As a child, almost every kid in my grade played a sport no matter what it may be, but as time went on, fewer and fewer kids would sign up because it was no longer about the fun of the game. The pressure was much too intense for many kids to handle to the point that I've even seen a girl have a panic attack on the field.

People no longer cared if the team tried their very hardest if they didn't come out superior. Even when games were won, players would still get yelled at afterward by the coach or other teammates for making simple mistakes such as missing a serve or striking out. Laughing in a practice and having fun with teammates suddenly became frowned upon because every second was meant to be devoted to making the team "perfect."

The people most to blame for this repulsive reformation of sports is without a doubt coaches. Coaches are meant to be the person that you feel most comfortable asking for help relating to a sport, but today, many coaches see that as weakness. As soon as a player makes one mistake, they are immediately replaced in the game as if coaches aren't aware that second chances exist.

Not every player was treated equally by the coach depending on their skill level; the best players on the team were granted the most amount of attention and kindness. Instead of providing criticism constructively, coaches would insult players for their wrongdoings. Instead of having a loving bond with their coaches, players would fear them.

I've witnessed way too many children cry throughout or after a game because they were disappointed in their performance. Many girls on my teams over the years, including myself, had suffered a huge loss of confidence after coaches verbally abused them about their execution in games. The standards are set much too high by coaches to the point where it feels as though we aren't allowed to make any mistakes. Kids begin feeling as though they are not talented enough to play with their teammates and feel bullied into quitting the sport.

In a variety of sports, so many children sit on the sidelines anxiously awaiting their opportunity to play, which is never granted. Of course, players are at a spectrum of different playing levels, but that doesn't mean that the least talented player shouldn't be given the chance to shine.

The best way to learn is through experience, which children aren't given the ability to do if coaches only allow them to sit on the bench. Sports are extremely time-consuming, and if children aren't given the chance to play like they signed up for, it feels like a waste of precious time. Coaches not playing some players is also a huge degradation of their self-confidence and makes them feel useless on the team.

The most disgusting concept to me is that this aggressive style of sports has even extended to leagues that were created for the purpose of learning and having fun. The recreational teams which are coached by parent volunteers and even the Catholic Youth Organization league have become almost equally competitive as varsity sports.

Coaches at these particular levels use varsity coaches as their guide even though they couldn't possibly be worse role models. Winning is also their only concern and not every child is given the same opportunities. I hate to break it to you, coaches, but this isn't the Olympics or the MLB.

As a college student, I no longer play sports. I prefer other activities such as acting, writing, and painting because they do what hobbies are intended to do, reduce stress and provide enjoyment. I know a multitude of other people my age who have acted similarly because they no longer possessed the love of sports that they used to.

Coaches have forced children to lose their fondness of playing their favorite sport because winning had become much too important. Terminating my relationship with sports and blossoming other interests was one of the best things I've ever done because it eliminated a huge amount of unneeded stress in my life.

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.
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With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed. So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes. The problem these days in the cheerleading world, is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team the chances of her being on level 4 next year is slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level 4 tumblers, but have level 2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete. Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time. What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10 year old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes. Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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Tiger Is Back And 2019 Is Starting To Look Up

Tiger Woods might now have the greatest comeback story in sports history.

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It's no secret that Tiger Woods means a lot to the game of golf. I wrote about his influence back in September when he achieved his one and only tournament win in 2018, first since 2013. I did, however, celebrate his win with a caveat of sorts: I wouldn't say he was back.

In golf, no one cares about how big your prize purse is, how many endorsements you've got or even how many tournaments you win. A golfer's career is measured by how many Majors they win. So for me, I couldn't claim Tiger was back until he secured at least one more Major victory before he decided to hang up the clubs for good.

But now, with a Masters championship under his belt and another green jacket to hang in the closet, I can safely say without a doubt in my mind that Tiger is back.

The biggest question with Tiger was whether or not he could carry the momentum from his Tour Championship into the Masters. Tiger has gotten our hopes up before, but things felt different the moment Tiger claimed that first tournament win in what felt like forever.

And honestly, there's no better way for the world's biggest golfer than in the world's biggest tournament. The "Tiger Effect" is very real, and the numbers are there to prove it. Despite having to tee off early for the final round with threesomes instead of duos to avoid storms, the Masters still delivered incredibly high TV ratings as Tiger played his way into contention the past few days. According to CBS, the final round of the Masters delivered a 7.7 rating which is the highest it's been in 34 years. I'll never forget where I was when Tiger won his fifth green jacket, and I'm certainly not alone in saying that.

So what does this mean for Tiger's legacy? For one, the argument of "can Tiger win another major before he retires" can finally be put to rest. I'm not a huge fan of the talking heads in the sports industry, but watching this video of the slue of bad Tiger takes just brings a smile to my face. It also resurfaces the Jack Nicklaus debate as the greatest golfer of all time. Having now secured his 15th Major win, breaking Nicklaus' record at 18 Major wins seems entirely possible. Statistically, Tiger winning another Major is not outside of the realm of possibility. Julius Boros was the oldest player to win a Major at 48, so Tiger at 43 theoretically gives him another five years. One thing's for sure, the entire sports world will be watching.

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