Youth Sports: Where Did the Fun Go?

What happened to the days of youth sports being fun? What happened to teaching sportsmanship and other life lessons with youth sports? It seems like monthly I see a story of kids between the ages of 8-12 participating in high level athletics, playing on “elite” teams and practicing multiple times a week. What happened to playing for the love of the sport and not for some scholarship 10 years down the road? What happened to an offseason for youth sports? Now when I say offseason, I don’t necessarily mean doing nothing. I am a big proponent of multi-sport/activity kids, but playing the same sport all year round is where I have the issue. I hear horror stories of kids playing upwards of 80-100 games per year, which is the epitome of overuse. This is borderline child abuse and I put much of the blame on the coaches but parents have just as much responsibility in this. A parent at some point has to look at what is best for the health of their child. Some of these club coaches, and school coaches aren’t exempt, will ride a “stud” to a championship. Guess what? Eventually that stud, whose body hasn’t matured enough yet to handle these stresses, will break down. It makes me cringe because I have seen the damage this causes. I have seen kids whose arms or knees are shot by the time they do make it to that “glorious” scholarship. News flash, if the kid can’t perform they won’t have that scholarship for long. 
We need to get back to the days where sport was apart of the community. Where it brought people closer together and taught our children life lessons. We need to stop putting so much pressure on young kids to be the next Lebron James. Let them develop at their own pace and on their own terms. 

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