Participation ribbons, overbearing parents, and the inability of solving problems, children's sports of today have failed to teach the true essence of teamwork and competition. Today's sports are losing value for a variety of reasons, but the most common include:
- Problem Solving and Responsibility
Participating in sports throughout childhood is supposed to encourage kids to take responsibility and solve their own problems; however, this is all changing for the worse. So many coaches and parents step in when a kid doesn't get their way, which is leading to kids not having the skills to work through issues with teammates, opponents, or coaches.
The whole essence of sports is a fun way to learn life skills and stay in shape, but the lack of personal responsibility within athletes is leading to a lifetime of expectations that the world cannot produce. Mommy and daddy won't always be able to hold your hand and solve your problems; the sooner we learn this, the better.
- Overbearing Parents
It has become a common sight to see parent's of an athlete yelling at the coach, referee, or even their own kid. So many parents are trying to relive their childhood sport's fantasies through their kids that the fun of sports completely disappears.
Throughout my middle school and high school years, I witnesses so many parents trying to coach their kids from the bleachers. In the end, many of their kids felt obligated to play a certain sport and became obsessed with pleasing their parents instead of enjoying themselves. It is time to put parents back on cheerleading duty and let the kids decide what sports to play and to genuinely enjoy what they are doing.
- Participation Ribbons
Finally, the ever-present debate on the value of the participation ribbon. At every sporting event, each team receives ribbons, trophies, or plaques just for showing up. This is not logical or helpful. By allowing children to slip into the mindset of "everyone is a winner," we are allowing the leaders of tomorrow to believe that everyone is great at everything. This is not true.
We all have different talents, and that's okay. No one is meant to be the best at everything. In order to make kids realize this, we need to stop giving them ribbons and awards for every little thing, and teach them that some things just aren't meant to be.
I understand that youth sports are essential to a lot of things. Children grow and develop throughout their time of the field and court. It is completely normal to want a child to succeed, and at extremely young ages it is just fine to encourage and help them along the way. However, we can't sugar coat every little thing or hold the children's hands the entire way. It is time to go back to sports without overbearing parents and expected ribbons, and instead filled with life lessons, problem-solving, and self-responsibility.