….until we dismantle the parenting culture that emphasizes achievement and success over healthy, happy kids, we don’t stand a chance of solving this problem.
And yet, kids quit. As the article I linked points out, there are many factors, from puberty to over specialization. I believe kids quit sports by age 13 primarily due to one of the following two reasons. I also think both could be solved with better parenting and coaching.
- Burnout – An athlete starts playing a sport at age 5 (or younger!). By the time they hit puberty, they have played hundreds of games and attended close to 1,000 practices. And yet, the stress gets GREATER, not lesser, as the athlete approaches high school. Add in the fact that their skill level, which may have been top-of-class at age 9 or 10, may now be good, but not great. Unfortunately, most parents & coaches are not equipped to deal with a player who is tired, frustrated and not performing at the level she wants. Coaches lose patience, parents lose perspective, players quit.
- Recreation Leagues – On the other end of the spectrum, many athletes that are late bloomers or in need of the occasional play, find rec leagues in America to be lacking. (And to be clear, I don’t see that as the fault of the leagues, entirely). Sports in America, as pointed out in the WashPost article, is all about achievement and success. Rec leagues, are by definition, for fun and recreation. Consequently, where is the money in sports in America going? Where do the best athletes and coaches often go? Club, not rec. And it’s not just the money. Parent’s attitude make coaching rec difficult. Head to your local YMCA gym this weekend and watch a 12 year old basketball game. All the nonsense heard from the sidelines at the club level will be heard there as well. Bad coaches, poorly run leagues, lack of money and crazy parents. Where do I sign up? No wonder kids quit.
I believe the key to keeping kids in sports is finding the balance between competition and good training. Then add in lowered expectations from the parent. Throw your kids in a bunch of stuff, and be sure they are getting well coached. Continue to be their advocate, but stop caring about the wins & losses and enjoy the ride. And if you can’t find the right situation for your athlete, start coaching. Until parents begin to stand up for what is right and begin to take ownership in the process, we won’t change the culture.
Can parents in American today change their mode of thinking, away from ultra competition, into a more healthy sports environment?
Do parents recognize the toxicity of the current competitive sports culture?
So what do you think? Why do you think kids quit sports?
Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!