Youth Involvement in Sports

Ariticle Summary Parents Involvement in Youth Sports Parental Involvement in Youth Sports: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Sean P. Cumming & Martha E. Ewing Sport in Society Article Summary Parental Involvement in Youth Sport Parental Involvement in Youth Sports: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Parents have been involved in youth sport for quite some time now, and they always will. Help from parents is essential, but sometimes parent’s involvement can be a bit too much.

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Fast growing team sports like hockey and soccer traditionally have a lot of parent involvement because they can be expensive, scholarship opportunities seem to be everywhere, and way too many parents think their little one will be the next big superstar athlete. Violence, controlling behavior and abusive behavior towards officials, athletes, coaches and spectators has a lot of youth organizations second guessing the role of parents in youth sport. Mandatory training classes for parents on sportsmanship and behavioral conduct are becoming more popular, because a lot of parents just do not know how to act.

The involvement of parents in youth sport is essential because some one has to get little Johnny to and from games and practices. Plus expensive league fees and equipment do not pay for themselves, but should this be looked at as an investment or a recreational expense. (Especially at the youth level) The parents of today are investing huge amounts of time and money into the development of children, when the children should just be focusing on fun and friends.

This over involvement of parents can negatively affect the child’s feelings towards sport because fun and enjoyment is taken out of the equation as business, skill development, and financial return is emphasized. Parents just need to support their child’s involvement in sport as it relates to participation and enjoyment. What happens in a lot of cases is the parents try to live through their kids and when the parents take control the fun goes out the window. So why do children participate in sport? That is the million dollar question. Well a recent study was taken on what the most popular reason for youth sport participation was.

The number one reason for youth participating in sport is to have fun. It is not about winning and bring home a huge trophy and having championship medals, kids just want to have fun. New skills, to be with friends and the thrill of competition were the next on the list. (Winning was not one of the most popular reasons) Parents need to focus on emotional and financial support of their children during their sporting experience. Children will experience a lot of ups and downs while participating in sports, wins losses cheaters as long as verbal encouragement is shown and support is given things should go pretty well.

When parents get emotionally involved things usually start going down hill and kids tend to lose their interest. The two most visible types of parents in youth sport are excitable and fanatical. Excitable parents are usually supportive, but they tend to get caught up in the moment. They have good intensions, but at the end of the day they probably create more bad then good. Excitable parents can be embarrassing and the children of excitable parents usually do not want their parents involved in competition, or practices. Fanatical parents put a lot of pressure on their kids and are constantly creating scenes with officials and coaches.

The kids of these parents do not show a lot of excitement towards games and practices, and chances are they will drop out of sports completely. Fanatical parents are way too focused on winning and losing. The fanatical parents are the parents who are living through their children and who push them way too much on a consistent basis. These parents do not recognize the ability levels of their kids and they believe their kid will become the next superstar athlete. Parent orientation meeting are becoming more popular in youth sports. I believe they are a great way to start off the season.

The meetings are planned to create a connection between the coach and the parents. The meeting helps everyone get on the same page, and it gives the coach a chance to lay down the laws and it give parents a chance to answer questions. Coaches will get a chance to introduce themselves and explain their philosophy. Safety procedures, schedules, parent responsibilities and league rules can be explained. Playing time and disciplinary actions will also be covered. I believe if parents let coaches coach, ref’s ref and kids play everything will be alright.

At the end of the day everyone just wants to have fun, and the youth sport experience can be improved when everyone is supportive of one another. Winning should never be the priority when it comes to youth sports. Of course winning is fun, but at the end of the day it is not the most important thing in the world. If parents let their kids make the decisions about when, where and why they want to play sports then everything will be alright, but if parents get too involved things will go down hill and youth participation levels will follow.


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