What’s Right With Youth Sports?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

If you’re like me, you may be tired of always hearing about the negatives associated with youth sports. Yes, we know, there are insane parents fighting on the sidelines, overzealous coaches screaming at kids who make mistakes. The list goes on. We all know there is plenty that has and will go wrong. But what’s right with youth sports?

For every game where two idiots engaged in mortal combat because their seven year-old sons’ rivalry got too intense, there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of games where parents behaved themselves, encouraged politely, and were able to be friendly with people from the other team after the game.

For every coach of preteens who tries to emulate his favorite out-of-control screaming and swearing pro role model, countless volunteers have fun with the kids they oversee, treat them with compassion and dignity, and still do a pretty good job teaching fundamental skills of the sport, and lessons of life.

We’ve read of unethical league administrators who misappropriated funds entrusted to them by communities and the sad result of bankrupt organizations and kids with nowhere to play. Yet we don’t read about the scores of leagues run right, by volunteers with their hearts in the right place and no vested interest other than the happiness of the children they serve.

We don’t hear about the positive stories because they’re not news. And they’re not news because they’re the norm. The average youth sports organization is presided over by solid community citizens, often giving of time they don’t have to spare, frequently at great cost to their own personal finances and family lives, because they believe in the value and sanctity of youth sports.

From the dad in his dress shoes who comes out of the bleachers to drag the field so the coaches can talk to their kids after the game to the team parent who coordinates everyone’s schedule behind the scenes and makes sure there are home-baked chocolate chip cookies for every player, to the coach who goes 4-12 but gets a sincere “thank-you for a great season” from every parent on the team, the heroes in our community are many, and their mostly-unheralded sacrifices amazing. Sure, there’s plenty of bad news that comes our way every day. But next time you’re out at the fields, it might be nice to stop, take a look around, and enjoy soaking in some good news that we often take for granted.

Brian Gotta is a former professional recreational youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is President of Help Kids Play, a collection of companies whose mission is to further the development and enjoyment of youth sports.

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