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Fitness Tip of the Day

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Children or Competitors?

As the youth football season heads into the playoffs, we see an increase in the pressure put on children to WIN. While some competition can be healthy, there are definite side effects from putting children into the pressure cooker too young. Besides the obvious physical stresses of the game, we have parents and coaches putting extra stress on the kids to "win it all". Should there even be a playoff for children under 12?

Competing and losing do teach some life lessons, but only if the child is at an appropriate age to digest the lesson. With the main goal of youth sports being participation and sportsmanship, playoffs bring another dimension. The extra emphasis on "win or go home" can't be ignored.

Watch the reaction of parents and coaches: then ask who the playoffs are really for. As kids mature, they can handle tougher competition. Introduce it too soon and they are unable to learn the lessons it can teach. How sad........

4 comments:

  1. I think our society is definitely going in a direction of "Winning is the Only Thing." We as parents and coaches are putting too much emphasis on winning at to early of an age. I am a high school coach and an ultimate competitor but I don't agree with the direction we are going for our children. I believe that kids should be kids. We should teach them to always give their best no matter what and the most important thing is to have fun. When these children become older I believe we can then put more emphasis on winning but once again the focus should always be "always give your best." Besides, I agree with you and your idea of life lessons are learned through competing. Win or loose.

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  2. "Winning is the Only Thing" is definitely the mindset of most, if not all, of the parents at my school. I just recently finished up with my season as a middle school football coach and it was the most difficult year I have ever had throughout my past nine years of coaching. We, as coaches, were trying to build character and a positive work ethic in our football players. Some of our players had problems with discipline and responsibility for their actions in the classroom and on the field. We tried to hold them accountible when they did things that they were not supposed to do but the parents did not agree with us. Instead of the parents agreeing with the benching of their child, they would rather them play at all cost so we could win. Believe me, I am all for winnning but what's really important here? Is it winning every middle school football game or is it holding our kids accountible for their actions more important? Needless to say, it was so bad this year that it has led to my resignation.

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  3. How sad to hear that you feel like you have to resign your position! You sound like a coach who was definitely on the right track in trying to teach responsibility and consequences to the kids. Instead of resigning, try going to the administration and asking for written rules pertaining to eligibility. Grades as well as behavior ( on and off the field ).

    A coach should always have final say so about a student and their participation.

    Too bad the parents in this case chose to teach the kids that winning is the most important thing. I hope those kids will learn that even the best athletes need to follow the rules as well before the lesson becomes much more painful! Like not playing in High School!

    Team sports can teach so many life lessons, but only if parents back up the coach. Please don't take away a good coach from all the kids who DO learn those lessons by being involved with adults who care.......hang in there!

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  4. Well, going to the administrator was actaully part of the problem. My school recently acquired a brand new principal who stated from the start that..."I know nothing about sports nor do I like them." This year was the first year that we actually put in an academic and behavior contract for all athletes at the middle school level, which we had never had before. Even though, we as coaches, would try to enforce the contract as it should be the parents would go straight to the administrator and she would back the parents and not the coaches no matter what was stated in the athletic contract, which by the way, was signed by all the athletes and parents before the season began.

    The reason I decided to resign was that I felt as if I had no power as the head coach. How can I have control over my team and discipline a kid on the field one day and the next day have it overturned by the principal when the parents come up to the school and complain? It's just so frustrating to know that I am doing the right thing in getting them prepared for the high school level and following the contract that we ALL agreed upon in the beginning of the year just to have it overturned like it just doesn't matter!

    I'm not saying that I have finished my coaching career for good. This is my 9th year as a coach and I have never had to experience something like this. I believe that I will coach again in the future but not at my present school.

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