Youth Sports: Your kid’s not going pro, so relax and let them have fun.

Youth Sports: Your kid’s not going pro, so relax and let them have fun.

“As students and families sign up for sports this fall and winter, we should be asking: if you knew this was just for fun, would you still do it? Would you do this much of it? Would you do it differently? Because if you wouldn’t — or more important your child wouldn’t — then it’s time to put some or all of those hours and dollars into something else.” 

Writer KJ Dell’Antonia puts youth sports in the proper perspective in her NY Times article titled ” Odds Are, Your Sport-Playing Child Isn’t Going Pro. Now What?” (see full article below).  Just because your little “superstar” is scoring five touchdowns a game, scoring five goals in soccer or hitting five home runs doesn’t mean it’s time to go house shopping.  Consider  these sobering facts from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

# of High School Players # of NCAA School Players # of pro draft spots % of NCAA Players who go pro* % of High School players who go pro
Football 1 Million 71,000 256 1.6% .02%
Men’s Baskeball 541,000 18,000 60 1.2% .01%
Women’s Basketball 433,000 16,000 36 0.9% .008%
Baseball 482,000 33,000 1,216 8.6% .2%
Soccer 417,000 23,000 76 1.4% .01%
Hockey 35,000 4,000 211 6.8% .6%

Source: NCAA                                                                                *Includes all pro leagues

Watching your kid participate in youth athletics is one of the most enjoyable activities for a parent. And for the kids, sports teaches them invaluable life lessons: discipline, commitment, overcoming adversity, persistence and selflessness to name a  few; not to mention the health benefits from all the physical activity.

Recently I’ve been  introduced to several wonderful organizations that are doing great work in the area of youth sports. Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) is a national non-profit developing “Better Athletes, Better People” by working to provide all youth and high school athletes a positive, character-building youth sports experience.

Student/Athlete advocate and ambassador Seneca Blue is doing fantastic work through his Blue Print for Success organization, working with school districts across the country to improve opportunities for kids by providing character building tools to help them succeed at life.

Most of all youth sports are about helping kids build confidence and self-esteem.   Nothing bothers me more then to see a kid getting screamed at by some adult who peaked in high school and threatens to destroy a kid’s image of themselves.  Nothing can derail a child’s confidence faster then an adult expressing disappointment in them.  There is absolutely nothing at stake during youth sports, except our ability to raise happy, well adjusted, and confident kids who have a positive sense of self.

So your kid’s not going to the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL and that’s ok; remind them that sports are fun and win or lose, you’re going to get ice cream after.