An article written in the USA Today entitled, Fixing Kids’ Sports: Why The Fun is Gone & The Players Are Quitting….What You Can Do, brought to light some very interesting pieces of information. Summarized by Richard Brunette, Recreation Supervisor for the City of Costa Mesa Recreation Division, they are:
· The drop out rate from children in youth sports is 70%
· Stress injuries among kids are at an all-time high
· That children are starting in sports way too early, even when experts say this has no correlation to kids becoming “stars” down the road. (In fact, it may have the opposite effect).
· That children are specializing in one sport much too early
· That 20-30% are playing on “elite” teams, even though only 2-5% actually have the skills to do so
· That children may be forced to play the same sport year-round, by the age of 10, for them to have any chance to play high school sports
· That practicing sports to this extent, and playing more of it, will not necessarily equate to a successful athlete or “winning”
· That those kids who participate in a variety of sports – and specialize only after puberty – tend to be better players, have less injuries, and play the sport they choose to specialize in longer
· That many kids are pushed so hard when young, they tire of the sport by high school and quit
· That 44% of parents say their children dropped out of a sport because it made them unhappy
· That 56% of parents said if they could change one thing, they would want their coach to be less focused on winning
Many of us remember fondly playing three or more sports as kids growing up and believe that would be best for our kids too. But when other kids, who are competing with ours, are playing only one sport year-round, how can we not feel that maybe our children are falling behind if they switch from sport to sport? It is a very complicated issue and tough situation for parents of a young athletes. There is no easy answer except that, perhaps, when the parent is more invested and involved than the child, it may be time to take a step back and reassess.