Youth Sports – Adam Harder

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Adam Harder – @AHard779

Wanting the best for your child is something that every parent wants. But when does it cross the line? For some parents, it’s hard for them to recognize. Pushing your kid into sports that they don’t want to do or making them a year round athlete is something that has become far too common. In 2016, youth sports was a 15 BILLION dollar business including travel, food, team fees, equipment and more. Yet with all this money spent, only 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded with scholarships and only 3 percent of college athletes make it to the professional level. I can understand putting your kid into sports for the right reasons. Sports help to build teamwork, a strong work ethic, learning to win and lose graciously, etc. But putting a kid into any sport because you want him or her to become the best and receive a scholarship or go pro is an act in futility.

Let me back up for a second. I am a licensed official in basketball, football, baseball and wrestling. When I am at a high school level event, and even some middle school level games, I rarely hear any complaints from the sidelines or parents (maybe I just can’t hear them), but when I am being kind and doing younger level games, the things I hear seem to be exponentially worse. I have had parents storm the field, coaches try and square up to fight me and even players back talk me. Dealing with these people is something I have just learned to put up with, but recently I have come to the realization that I am not a poor official: these people are poor parents, players and coaches.

Taking sports seriously and competitively is something I have always done, but something that was instilled in me at a young age was to NEVER speak poorly to an official. I was dumbfounded the first time I was spoken to the way I have been.  I just wonder when sports were changed from teaching the right things to just wanting to win. Kids at 8-years-old should not be taught that screaming at an official is okay. Instead, my remark is always, “Please coach your kids and I will do my best”.

There are always levels of authority that you must answer to. When you have a job, you learn to go to your supervisor first, they can go to the manager, etc. Kids should learn at a young age that at home, you answer to your parents. In athletics, you answer to your coach and the coach answers to the officials. There are boundaries that should not be crossed. This is where youth sports can be so beneficial.

If you are going to have your kids participate in sports at a young age, use it to make them better in all aspects of life, not just athletics. You want them to be learning and having fun and they can do all of that if it they are willing to try. Forcing them to join a sport they are not interested in will not help them and will just end up being frustrating for the parents. This then results in all of the yelling and bad attitudes at games and events. Avoid this and encourage your child to participate in things they like and take advantage of all the things that will benefit them now and later in life.

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