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Getting Cut From A Sports Team

4. Cutting creates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Cutting starts a downward spiral that can make further participation in the sport remote.

Those who say that, with hard work and effort, a child who is cut from a middle or high school team has just as much of a chance as anyone else to make future teams are ignoring reality. Kids cut as freshmen almost never try out again.

Those who cite Michael Jordan as an example of someone who was cut only to come back stronger forget that he was never cut. In fact, he tried out for varsity, did not make that team, but remained on the JV squad. The next year, still in the program, he moved up to varsity.

In fact, the Michael Jordan example proves my point. One wonders, had he been cut completely from the program, whether he would have made the effort to make the team the following year and the world would have never seen the extraordinary magic he displayed on the basketball court.

5. Cutting sends a mixed message about the value of athletic participation

The current youth sports system promotes participation - at least at the earlier ages - then, by cutting children at the middle and high school levels, limits their participation. It thus plants a seed in a young athlete's mind that, as much as she may love playing a sport, as she gets older, participation takes more and more of a back seat to winning.

5. Cutting turns kids off to exercise

Those children who are cut from sports teams are not going to be exercising as frequently as they would if they were playing sports; they are much more likely to spend their afternoons watching television, or worse. The old saw "a healthy body, healthy mind" is apt. Our youth are not nearly as physically fit as they should be. According to a February 2006 Gallup Youth Study, one in five teens is now overweight with only 21% of teens claiming to participate in sports or recreation 5 to 6 days a week and only 19% of our teens participating in vigorous sports or physical activity 5-6 days a week. It simply makes no sense whatsoever from a public health standpoint to continue a policy that only contributes to an overall decline in physical fitness among adolescents and young adults.

6. Cutting reduces the talent pool

As the mother of fraternal triplets, I know that children, even those born a minute apart, mature at differing rates.

The New England sea-side town where I grew up wins titles in boy's and girl's soccer year after year. A large part of the town's success is derived from the fact it has a no-cut policy. Some of its best players were not "stars" when they were eleven or twelve. Because they were not discouraged from continuing to play by being cut, they were still playing soccer when they reached high school, where they blossomed into varsity players. Thus, cutting kids from sports teams is like cutting a bud off a tree just because it hasn't bloomed as early as the rest (hence the phrase "late bloomer").

This is especially true given the limited opportunity of coaches or whoever is doing the cutting to truly evaluate the potential of every athlete during tryouts. Coaches and other adults cannot predict with any degree of certainty after evaluating kids during one, two, three or even five-days of tryouts that a particular child will or will not succeed at any sport they are motivated to play.

A teacher wouldn't give up on a child who is getting poor grades and say she was only going to spend her time teaching the ones she thought had the potential to go on to college. Childhood is time to give all children a chance to grow and develop, not a time to stunt their athletic growth prematurely.