Sound Off: Let’s Talk About Youth Leaving Sports.

This weekend, as I was moving into my new place, I sat down for a few minutes to take a breather. As anyone does these days, I pulled out my phone and noticed I had a Google alert for an article written by a psychologist whose children were both involved in youth sports.

In the piece, the author mentions how her oldest son still referred to himself as a “blue dot”, the color of sticker placed on his helmet in youth hockey to differentiate the good skaters from the bad ones. Even though she says her son is now a great player, when he fails to win a game or something goes wrong in the sport, he calls himself “blue dot” and takes it to heart.

Are adults becoming too competitive when it comes to youth sports?

I can remember a time where I was a young girl competing with a team full of not just good, but great natural athletes—some of whom went on to play in college. Immediately, the rest of my teammates and I were put into a “less-than” box by not only coaches but team parents as well.

Whether they meant it or not, I couldn’t help but feel like some of the others on the team were made to be the “weak links.” Since they were still good ball players, what does that say about adults ruining team youth sports.

For starters, even though youth sports can and are one of the best ways to build sportsmanship through wins and losses, they have slowly become a way for self-esteem in kids to lower over time.

But what should we be doing to combat this problem?

For starters, I remember when I was in college and I overheard a young boy say to his mom, “I don’t want to play football anymore, I’m not good.”

The child was no more than five or six. While youth sports do teach competitiveness, at what price? The price of a five-year-old child quitting a sport because he wasn’t good enough? The price of a young girl quitting softball because she wasn’t college level great at nine-years-old? Youth sports numbers are always a yo-yo. We have numbers going up and down constantly depending on each sport. Together as adults, spectators, directors, and fans must band together to create a more positive playing field for these young athletes.

Then that takes us to this dilemma: does everyone get a trophy? While I think everyone should at least get a certificate for participating, I honestly don’t think that every person in a tournament should get a trophy, medal, or ring. I think those who achieve greater things should be able to have “hardware” and brag about it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think that those who don’t win are “unworthy” of something as well. If a certificate of participation is going to keep a child in said sport, why is there such a big problem surrounding “trophies for all?”

Sound off everyone! I want to hear your opinions!