October 1, 2016
Undeniably, all parents and coaches want the best for their own children and players. So then, why are we seeing such a drastic fallout in youth sport participation? Why are our kids walking away from sports never to return because of negative experiences?
Studies show that over the past six years, 6% more of our young boys and girls in sports are opting out than ever before (Beatty & Fawyer, 2013). That percentage does not include normal attrition of children who realize sports are not for them. This 6% decrease each year (which equates to close to 2.4 million/year) includes children who have grown up loving sports, but somewhere along the line they lost that passion and drive.
So why are they leaving and where did that passion go?
The answer is three-fold:
- They are not having fun.
- They are getting burned out with over-specialization.
- Most importantly, they do not see the relevance to the transferable life-skills from sports to life.
In my newly-released book on Amazon entitled Character Loves Company-Defining the “Teachable Moments” in Sports: A Guidebook to Character Literacy Development, I identify the two root causes to youth leaving sports, never to return. I then provide a systematic approach to bringing relevance back to youth and amateur sports through my 8-week character literacy development curriculum (CLD).
Two Root Causes of the Decline in Youth Sports:
- The Win-at-all-costs mentality undermines many of the character values that can and should be learned through youth sports. As coaches and parents, we need to work to change the language from win-at-all-costs to win the right way. Take a second to ponder the message of the win-at-all-costs mentality for our youth…
Does it mean crush your opponent and show little to no respect for them? Does it mean run up the score no matter how lopsided and unethical it seems? Does it mean scream at officials if you do not get the call? Or worse, does it mean ordering your players to take out the official if you feel he or she is not giving you the right calls? (This actually happened in a Texas high school football game—See CNN article McLaughlin & Lett 2015).
- The second root cause is the notion that talking or discussing character creates weakness or “soft” athletes. The fact that I have to even address such misguided ignorance is a sign of a growing society of “character illiterate” individuals. Are we surprised by the trend of professional athletes engaging in domestic violence, and other acts of disrespect toward others? Are we surprised that more than ¼ of our homes in America are without a consistent father-figure or male presence? I am not attempting to place the blame or onus completely on the world of youth and amateur athletics, and the role of a coach. However, I am drawing a correlation to a growing lack of concern for others.
Character Loves Company! Follow my character development building blocks that I have laid out in my guidebook and help bring relevance back to sports for all of our children.