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Kids Sports and Aggressive Adults
There is huge money making potential in becoming a pro athlete, and many adults tend to let this ruin the experience of playing sports for their kids. We all know of the father who wants wants to live out his own failed sports dreams through his kids, and the coaches who do the same, and the oftentimes clueless mothers who yell and scream at their children to play better and harass kids and parents from the opposing side. This is a major problem in American youth leagues, and despite the attention that has been brought to it over the years, things don't seem to be improving. Having worked at an indoor soccer arena where many youth teams played, I saw this behavior from adults first hand over and over again.
Why do 5 year old kids need to play any sport in an organized team with a coach and uniforms and all the trappings of a pro team? It is pretty useless trying to team 5 year olds tactics on the field when they all naturally run after the ball wherever it goes. Naturally they fall a lot as they have only learned how to walk in a normal way just a few short years ago. This doesn't stop parents from losing it and yelling at teenage refs to call fouls and hand our yellow and red cards and call opposing players "aggressive". At first it seems sad, and then it gets annoying seeing how adults can ruin what is supposed to be fun by over organizing and taking things too seriously. Let's face it, children in Brazil who grow up playing soccer on the beach with an empty coconut and with no adults to butt in will always become much better players than American kids who are over organized an berated by adults from the age of 5 in hopes of making them pro athletes.
Seeing grossly obese mothers holding a Slushee and yelling "C'mon Jimmy, KICK the BALL!" makes you feel sorry for the kid, especially as mom obviously has no clue about what the game is about. Putting kids on traveling teams and having tryouts where clueless parents try to make kids more competitive and aggressive usually has the effect of frustrating players which eventually makes them hate the game, other players, and their parents and adults. When a game starts feeling like a chore and there is so much pressure and stress placed on winning and "go team go", everything falls apart. How many kids have you seen who is a star on his Little League team only to give up their sport either before even getting High School or before College? I think everyone knows this scenario. Talent is not enough. High pressure is not enough. Buying your kids the most expensive sports equipment is not enough to make your kids enjoy the game. Many of the best players in the world from poor countries grew up playing barefoot in empty lots, but because they were playing and not working for overambitious adults who think they can throw money at success and believe they can have their kids excel by telling them to "hustle" every 2 minutes.
Just like adults hate being bullied and pressured in the workplace by overzealous bosses, kids hate getting the same from their parents. In many ways it is worse getting this pressure from adults, as children are impressionable and look up to parents and coaches. If they see that they are not satisfying the demands of adults to succeed, they feel stress and pressure to not let adults down, especially parents who are supposed to know what's good for them and what is right. This amounts to psychological terror of children by adults, many of whom don't seem to care or understand what they are doing to their kids.
It is not uncommon to see over excited parents getting into verbal and physical fights with other parents, coaches and even refs at kids games. What kind of example is this to kids? It shows that losing your head and yelling and hitting is OK if you don't get what you want or if someone else is better at something than they are. It's not surprising that kids are becoming more and more aggressive if that's what they see from their parents at a game.
Children should not be forced into organized sports so young. Just take a look at kids playing as part of an organized team, and those playing the same sport for fun in a park or schoolyard. Where do you see them actually enjoying themselves, laughing, and having fun? Under the watchful eyes of demanding parents where kids feel the pressure to perform, or those who are playing pick-up with other kids just for fun? I think we all know the answer to that.