There’s lots and lots of little problems with youth sports.
There’s the problem of finding qualified coaches. There’s the problem of getting kids into programs. There’s the problem of how much it costs. There’s the problems of keeping kids in the programs.
But I don’t think any of these are the big problem with youth sports.
The big problem is that youth sports is seen as the only avenue for kids and fitness.
There’s tons of youth soccer programs, USA Swimming teams, AAU basketball teams and :Little League. They compete for athletes, money and time. They compete for facilities. Obviously, they are competing against each other.
But what if you looked at all the youth sports programs as one big program? Whose the competition for youth sports and fitness then?
There’s not much. There are some recreation programs. There’s PE classes. But there’s not a grass roots program for kids to get up, move and play.
And I think there needs to be.
Not only for the good of kids. But also for the good of the youth sports programs themselves.
Organized youth sports got started by kids that were playing games in the streets and in parks and at schools wanted to get a little bit more organized. Some adults thought they’d help them out and they created organized youth sports.
But now, there’s few and fewer kids playing sports in the streets, parks and schools. This is a problem for two reasons.
One: There’s fewer kids exercising and becoming healthy. Hence the increase in childhood obesity and obesity related health issues. And I believe that not having kids playing games and sports on their own lowers their performance at school and has long term social ramifications. Like not knowing how to get along with others and not knowing how to work in a team
Two: There’s fewer kids organically becoming athletes and then wishing to join sports teams. And while youth teams are booming, getting the kids to stay on the teams past 13 is becoming more difficult. And the kids joining sports teams aren’t as good as athletes as they used to be. The best may be better because they’ve specialized earlier but the majority are not.
Also, the increase of kids not being active and playing in parks and streets may be a leading cause of the increase of sports injuries.
I really believe that getting ALL kids to be active and playing on their own without adult coaches will be not only better for the kids but also improve youth sports.
The more we can do as teachers, coaches, parents…and citizens to get kids (and adults) outside in the parks and playgrounds the better we will be as a nation.
And the better youth sports programs will be!
What do you think? As a youth sports coach or a coaching parent what do you think are the big problems in youth sports. Or the little ones.
And what can we do as citizens, voters and taxpayers to get more kids out playing?