April 3, 2019

Youth Sports: If You Must

Is there any middle ground between the 9-year-old with a pitching coach and the kid who quits after the second game? Maybe. Even if your family has mortgaged all its weekends for travel lacrosse, here’s how to put the “play” back in playing sports.

Is there a middle ground in youth sports? Is there a place to exist between the nine-year-old icing his shoulder after a session with his pitching coach and the kid who bats last and hates every minute and never plays a team sport again?

There used to be (back in our day). There can be. But in a world where families spend 10% or more of their yearly household income on travel teams, equipment, coaches, and gear, that friendly, non-intense approach has become a lot harder to find.  

In this episode we discuss how to keep the “play” in playing sports how to push back against coaches and leagues that tell third-graders they have to specialize surviving early-spring double-headers at the baseball field  when to let kids quit (70% of kids quit a team sport by age 13 because it’s too intense)  why girls are more likely to quit than boysand when to follow your kid’s passion, even if it means turning all of your weekends over to lacrosseand the only thing you should ever ever say to your child after a game.

Here's links to research and studies discussed in this episode: 

Kingswood Camp: Our Philosophy On Sports Michael S. Rosenwald for Washington Post: Are parents ruining youth sports? Fewer kids play amid pressure.Bruce Kelly and Carl Carchia for ESPN Magazine: The Hidden Demographics of Youth SportsEmily Barone for Time: The Astronomical Cost of Kids’ SportsAspen Institute: 10 Charts that Show Progress, Challenges to Fix Youth SportsAspen Institute: STATE OF PLAY 2018: TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTSCaitlin Morris for Aspen Institute: Changing the Game for Girls

Our main takeaway? Sports are one area where we parents need to take our eyes *off* the prize. Bring back the backyard wiffle ball game. Find places where kids of all levels can participate. And keep looking until your kid finds the sport she enjoys. It won’t always be easy, but it will probably be worth the effort.  

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