Two articles came out this week that really go after the poisonous culture that has evolved in youth sports. The focus of both is how the youth sports have become controlled by adults and how this is causing The Race to Nowhere as coined by one of the authors, John O’Sullivan. The added pressures, costs, neglect for safety, and intense family commitment are all discussed.
In the first article written by Ted Brown in a letter to the lacrosse community, questions are asked as to why 8th graders are being recruited by colleges and what are the adults doing (coaches & parents). He also questions the big money tournaments and elite clubs that are causing families to pay thousands of dollars each year just to keep pace with the rest of their peers. He cites this as an out of control culture that will eventually ruin the game. His thoughts and comments mirror that of John O’Sullivan in his article about the Adultification of Youth Sports.
O’Sullivan also comments on the the logic and safety dangers of weekend tournaments where kids play multiple games in a short time frame to justify the high costs and provide entertainment for the parents. He also looks at the logic of kids specializing earlier and earlier and the over emphasis on winning. Why do 9 year olds on “elite” teams have to travel 2 hours just to play a game against another “elite” team?
After reading both articles, I commend the authors for their courage in speaking up. There is a consensus that youth sports have become an out of control steam roller flattening the enjoyment of kids playing sports but no one is doing anything about HOW to slow it down. There is much needed dialogue and actions by all vested parties; players, parents, coaches, national governing bodies and the NCAA. These articles should serve as a wake up notice to help start these needed conversations.