Monday, February 28, 2011

How young is too young?

It seems that young children are getting involved in organized sports at a younger age each and every passing year. These children are being placed on sports teams at the age of four years old and in some instances even as young as three years old. I see the justification that parents may have for placing their son/daughter on a sports team at such a young age. They provide great socialization aspect for children, gets child active while having fun, shows the importance of teamwork. I think the most import aspect of youth sports is that an emphasis is placed on enjoyment of the sport. It is crucial that children are having fun at all times during practice and competition. Unfortunately some parents lose sight of these reasons for involving their son or daughter in youth sports. Some parents will force sports upon children just because they think their child may be good at it or even worse just because they played that particular sport. In both these cases parents are pressuring children to be involved in a sport that the child may not really enjoy. I believe that if a child wants to play a sport than he/she should show noticeable interest in that sport before a parent goes and signs them up for a organized sports team. Unfortunately youth sports are a business and it isn't just about the kids in most cases it is about making money. Organizations like the AAU say they will increase your likelihood of being recruited based on exposure. A lot of people buy into this and pay ridiculous fees and entrance payments just to enter the tournaments. Yes there is a better chance to play tougher competition but when the conferences are saturated you are just being placed in skill groups equal to your teams ability. So essentially you are paying obsered amounts of money to play competition equal to what you could play in your town or the neighboring towns. In my opinion you don't need to pay for your child to be on an elite travel team have them practice and practice and when there done practicing then you can enter them in these tournaments where there is better competition. Some will argue than your player won't get the exposure. Trust me if your good enough to play at the next level when that time comes than they will find you that is their job. As for these families who are spending hours away from the home due to practice and competition, i admire their commitment but i think it is unnecessary and a waste of money. Although the family in the video was limited by competition in their surrounding areas so they had no choice but to travel. I think it is worth it because that boy truly seemed to enjoy gymnastics and he did appreciate all his family did for him even though he was only eleven years old. overall youth sports programs should be their for the enjoyment of the children not for the exploitation of parents who try to live through the sports careers of their children. Pressure should never be placed on children to play a sport but if the child chooses to play that sport than I have no problem expecting them to give there best effort. That is where I would apply pressure upon my child or player to expect optimal levels of effort not based on skill or performance that will come with time. Please take the time to fill out this quick and easy poll, or feel free to comment.

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