Home » Successful Sports Parenting Channel » Moms in Youth Sports: Keeping Children Safe

Moms in Youth Sports: Keeping Children Safe

What sports mothers want

What, then, do sports mothers want?  What are their concerns? 

From the tens of thousands of e-mails I have received over the years, from my conversations with mothers all across the country, including the mothers of many Olympic athletes, I believe that,


First, and foremost, the vast majority of mothers (and many fathers, of course) just want to make youth sports fun again, to know that everything possible is being done to protect their children from injury and abuse and are given a chance to play until they graduate high school; that if it is no longer safe for our children to learn baseball or soccer on their own on the neighborhood sandlot, the organized sports program in which we enroll our child – the “village” – will protect them and keep them safe while they are entrusted to their care.  It isn’t just the safety of our own children we care about: as mothers we care about the well-being of all children.

Second, I am convinced that many mothers (and forward-thinking fathers) believe the time as come to challenge the assumption that, for better or worse, competition in youth sports must defined solely or even primarily in terms of winning and losing, and displays of power, dominance and control.  Instead, many want our children to learn that while competition is healthy and necessary (at least after they have developed a mature understanding of what competition means at around age twelve), a successful competition is one where all players contribute, do their best, and respect their teammates, opponents and the rules.


Third, I believe many mothers want the culture of youth sports to include a mother’s perspective and celebrate the values of women as much as men.  As natural communicators and nurturers, mothers, I believe, are in the best position to inspire coaches, parents, athletic directors, school boards, and local and national youth sports organizations to do more to keep children safe, to balance competition with cooperation and connectedness, and to think about sports not just as a place to showcase the gifted and talented but as a place where all of our children can begin a love affair with sports and physical exercise lasting a lifetime, instead of ending, as too often is the case, in burnout in early adolescence.  

Untapped resource

Women, particularly mothers, as Scott Lancaster noted in Fair Play, are “the greatest untapped resource in youth sports.”  In order to tap the incredible resource that the 42 million mothers of kids in sports represent, I believe the key is for mothers to become educated about the youth sports environment, and through such education empowered to act and act now.

Only by reclaiming their natural role as guardians of our children at play and confidently stepping onto the out-of-control playground of today’s youth sports to assume leadership roles as coaches and administrators can women and mothers not only protect their children from needless injury playing sports but help break down the gender stereotypes and attitudes in youth sports, atttidues that serve to reinforce the sexist division of labor and leadership that remains so pervasive in both the family and the workplace.

Now Available in KINDLE