The pressures between youth and its sports program Essay

This essay has a total of 1601 words and 7 pages.

The pressures between youth and its sports programs

The Pressures Between Youth and Its Sports Programs

Over the last two decades the growth of youth sports has reflected the popularity of
professional sports in our society. Sporting events and news are available to the public
twenty-four hours a day on television and radio: sports is an enormous industry. The
outstanding popularity of the sports industry has greatly affected youth sports
organizations. In order to supervise, teach and manage these athletes it is estimated 2.5
million coaches spend an average of eighty hours a season with them. The majority of these
coaches volunteer for programs organized by the community, religious organizations, and
recreational facilities. Without a national agency to coordinate sports programs, there
exists great variation in the manner in which sponsoring agencies organize their teams,
thus leaving plenty of opportunity for too much parental and coach control. Agencies have
quickly moved American youth from unstructured play to highly organized competition. The
structure of organized youth sports is the backbone for criticism and praise by
professional athletes, physicians, and psychologists.

There are many that feel organized sports can be very beneficial and strongly support
organized sports for youth. Some claim that sports aid in the development of social and
interpersonal skills, health fitness and psychological well-being. Many feel that
self-esteem and self-image can be greatly improved through sports. There are benefits that
involve individual skill development, greater physical fitness, and higher self esteem.
Other benefits include development of group cooperation teamwork and friendship-making
skills. Psychologists around the country stress a need for an active life style to develop
healthy self-images. Sports introduce children to healthy competition. A child's failure
in competition helps them learn to win gracefully and lose with honor. It teaches
youngsters that through perseverance and determination they can win next time and more
importantly at whatever they choose. These are lessons that children will keep with them
for the rest of their lives.

Some skeptics criticize the vital role of competition is hazardous to a child's
psychological and emotional well-being. The critics of sports emphasize the lasting
effects of competition and the negative influence of untrained coaches and parents that
are too pushy. . There are a huge number of children playing sports, but due to burnout,
stress, psychological trauma, and lowered self-esteem as many as seventy-three percent
quit sports by the age of thirteen. Rick Wolff, a former professional baseball player and
coach, claims there are several factors contributing to this phenomenon such as: parents
and coaches putting excessive pressure on children, specialization in one sport, over
competitiveness, anxiety and loss of interest. This lack of interest may stem from the
fact that they are cut from a team, injured, or receive little playing time. Another
reason for high dropout rates is the structure of the programs. The sports programs are
set up by adults, run by adults, and maintained by adults with a precise date and time.
Spontaneous play and creativity are taken out of the equation. Coaches are choosing who
plays and who doesn't in an effort to win. A study found that 90% of all children would
rather be on a losing team if they got to play. Alfie Kohn, author of "No Contest", claims
that competition will lead to the downfall of sports.

"The trouble with a hyper competitive culture like ours is that we not only leave the
mechanism intact but we create a network of reinforcement for winning at any cost.
Cheating and the like can be said to be over determined — called forth by both the
intrinsic structure of competition and the societal attitude toward it. . ." says Alfie
Kohn. (www.shareintl.org/archives/cooperation/co_nocontest.htm) Because the very core of
sports to produce a winner and a loser, competition forces children to rely on external
sources to feel good about themselves. It also causes youth to view others as obstacles to
their personal success. Winners' gloat and the losers sulk, or quit. The majority will end
up losers and this fosters self-doubt, thus a decrease in self esteem. Those that do win
often rely on competing to define their self worth .It is stressed that children love to
compete, but research tells a different story. An example of this is musical chairs.
However, the game is structured so that children try to get all players on the fewest
amount of chairs. Children are still learning skills and strategies, but there are no
losers-only winners.

Many critics on the emphasis of sports in American youth are concerned not only with the
structure of sports, but the negative stereotypes that many professional athletes portray.
Professional athletes directly affect other sports programs. Many professional athletes
are perfect examples of the influence and dangers of competition. Many professionals walk
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