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Rethinking Youth Sports

Making Youth Sports Safer

Are youth sports as safe as they could be? Of course they are not. Here are some of the things that Moms Team will do to make sports safer:

  • Inform everyone about the kinds of injuries that kids suffer playing a particular sport, how to prevent injuries through proper nutrition and hydration, how to minimize the number and severity of injuries, including injuries from overuse, and what to do when injuries occur, such as concussions or heat-related illnesses. In the coming weeks, months and years, we will be posting articles about every aspect of youth sports safety and nutrition from recognized experts.

  • Advocate in favor of more safety training for coaches. It is time that every youth sports coach receives training in first aid and sport-specific injury prevention. It is sad, but true, that the majority of coaches, even at the high school level, receive inadequate safety training.

  • Advise parents on proper safety equipment and techniques, and how to be pro-active on safety issues, including making sure that the fields and courts your children play on are safe, and that coaches don't continue games during lightning storms;

  • Educate parents, coaches and administrators that protecting children against emotional injuries, from sexual or verbal abuse or harassment, or being exposed to out-of-control or violent behavior by parents, coaches or other players) is just as, if not more important, than protecting them from physical injury.

Making Youth Sports More Sane

There's a lot we can do to restore sanity and a proper sense of balance to youth sports. Here are some ideas we will be exploring:

  • Make youth sports fun again. What are youth sports coming to when coaches are so hell-bent on winning that they won't let the "less skilled" 5-year olds on a T-ball team play the "fun" positions. We also have to find a way to keep kids playing sports into middle school and high school, when such a large percentage drop out because, you guessed it, sports are no longer fun. If kids knew they could play, regardless of their level of ability, many more would keep playing a sport for the fun and the exercise, and we might reverse the alarming national trend towards obesity in children and adults.

  • Put winning in its place. Kids play sports for fun. Adults play sports to win. No wonder adults are running youth sports. Everyone, from parents to coaches, from athletic directors to school board members, needs to realize that youth athletes are not miniature professionals, and that youth sports programs should be designed to meet the needs of the many (the kids who play sports for fun, to stay in shape, for personal satisfaction and to be part of a team), not just the few (the kids who go on to play sports in college and the miniscule percentage who end up in the pros).

  • Value sportsmanship and character. As Dr. John Yeager wrote in his book, Character and Coaching: Building Virtue In Athletic Programs, school administrators, parents, and coaches must enter into an ongoing partnership to make sure youth sports programs are character-based. While parents are the prime character educators, all adults associated with an athletic program must embody and reflect the moral authority vested in them.