I am afraid that much of society is missing what’s important in youth sports. The goal of youth sports is to teach the kids involved a lesson. The lessons that have the potential to be learned via sports are numerous and invaluable. The importance of physical activity, commitment to an activity and a team, social skills via teamwork, time management, hard work and work ethic, learning how to improve on a skill, not to mention the more mental-based lessons that can be learned by breaking down plays and defenses of such complex sports like basketball, or studying the biological effects of the body from running. These are all things I am mighty grateful I have learned through sports.
But, I’ve observed in my lifetime that these lessons get overshadowed by overzealous parents and fans who have their priorities all mixed up. Sure, competition is fun, and very important, but if the competition drives into acting in your default manner of yelling and being rude to you own child, other children on your team or the opposing team, the officials, or any of the coaches or other parents, then perhaps you should step back, think a little deeper about the situation, and relax a bit. Your default manner is what comes first to your mind as what you should be doing, otherwise referred to as a knee jerk reaction. A lot of us are blindly running in our default zones, giving in to that initial desire to do something without ever even thinking about what is the right thing to do or thinking about consequences, unintended or intended. I see this yelling and berating at sporting events as giving into an immature desire as akin to cheating on your spouse just because there is a hot person of the opposite sex within your vicinity. It’s harder to achieve the latter, so thankfully it doesn’t happen as much. But, you can acknowledge the feeling (or the hotness) and use it as a tool to understand yourself and your inner motives better. But, if the initial feeling you have would be harmful, don’t act on it. You have the power to realize that was a stupid thought, and not act on it, thereby disciplining your heart and purifying it in some way. I feel like with most things in life, God requires deep thinking to actually understand what is important, what is the right thing to do, and essentially, required of us.
If you think about it, you’ll realize that the first priority for youth sports should be that they’re fun. Fun for the kids, fun for you, fun for the coach, fun for the spectators. That’s the primary reason they should exist. If the fun is lost for the child, it’s a sad day indeed, because then they won’t learn any of the other lessons aforementioned, but will instead be learning who they don’t want to emulate when they grow up. Speaking firsthand, it’s really sad when every ounce of fun is zapped from games and competitions you once loved, reveled in, and dreamed about becoming great in and worked tirelessly to do so, all for people who don’t understand priorities or what the game is being played for in the first place. However well-intentioned you may be, I plead with you- don’t do that to your kids, let them have fun, and the rest of the lessons will follow, leading to a much healthier view of the world and much more positive way to learn lessons.