For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land… (Song of Solomon, 2:11-12)
Spring is the rebirth. And youth sports: Softball and baseball, golf, tennis, lacrosse, track & field.
We want our kids to participate in sport for so many reasons:
- To keep them active and healthy
- To teach them the value of teamwork
- To help them learn to follow direction and coaching
- To learn a lifelong activity
- Because sport is fun
Often lost in the conversation is the kid’s point of view.
Courtesy of the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports (ISYS), here is their Young Athlete Bill of Rights.
Talk it over your spouse, partner, co-parent, significant other. If your local youth sports program falls short, please get involved to bring the program back onto a proper course, or find another sports program for your kid.
- Right to participate in sports
- Right to participate at a level commensurate with each child’s maturity and ability
- Right to have qualified adult leadership.
- Right to play as a child and not as an adult
- Right of children to share in the leadership and decision-making of their sport participation
- Right to participate in safe and healthy environments
- Right to proper preparation for participation in sports
- Right to an equal opportunity to strive for success
- Right to be treated with dignity
- Right to have fun in sports
Don’t ever forget, in 2012 and 2014, just 760 US athletes earned the right to call themselves Olympians. In 2012 alone, 18,000 men and women graduated from medical school and earned the right to call themselves an MD or a DO.
I have competed and coached at fairly high levels. What got me there happened in my teens. There is no need to expose young children to high pressure competition. Nothing is gained, and the risk is high that children will learn to hate sport and competition. Let’s make sure our kids have a great sports experience.
Support the dream, but keep your feet on the ground. I’m rooting for you, rooting hard. Remember, we’re all in this together.
Bill of Rights reprinted with permission from Guidelines for Children’s Sports, R. Martens and V. Seefeldt (Eds.), Washington, D.C. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 1979.