So it was the perfect storm of youth sports this weekend.
From a three-day youth ice hockey tournament to me finally getting around to watching “Friday Night Tykes” I again find the whole youth sports environment sickening. And to be honest, while the kids are definitely acting out it’s only because the adults not only don’t correct it, they actually condone it.
Let’s start with the “Tykes.”
This is from the official “Tykes” website: In America, football is king… and nowhere is football bigger than in Texas. With exclusive access to the 8 to 9 year-old Rookies division of the Texas Youth Football Association, this 10-part docuseries follows five teams on and off the field during the 2013 season. Throughout, coaches and parents offer insight into why they believe they’re teaching valuable lessons about discipline and dedication, but also grapple with serious questions about parenting, safety and at what price we’re pushing our kids to win.
I understand a little of the thought process of these people. I agree that what people call the “soccer mentality” (no offense to soccer people) and oppose the theory that every kid should get a trophy and always positive talk from their parents. In my opinion it definitely sets them up with an unrealistic world – especially in the sports world. Frankly, not every kid deserves a trophy. It doesn’t make them bad kids but the kids who are more gifted in athletics should be recognized to a higher degree than those kids who may be better off sticking with academics or intermural sports. The kid who is more gifted, works harder and achieves more should be rewarded. There’s nothing wrong with that.
We all know that when get out of college and seek employment those who hiring managers see as more qualified, smarter or whatever, may get the job we want. It’s the way the world works. Competition is competition. Not everyone can be first. Heaven knows over the years I have applied for jobs and didn’t get them. That’s the way it goes.
In the “Tykes” show, there are coaches who are clueless and heartless. There are some men – and women – who truly believe that toughening up 9 or 10-year-old is the right thing to do. There is video of lots of head-to-head violent collisions. There are some kids who end up hurt and crying and the reaction of the coaches to these kids is that they shouldn’t be crying. Toughen up, they’re told.
There is one mom on the show who says she got her son involved in the Texas football program because she was tired of the “soccer mentality” that everyone gets a trophy and that she wanted her son to become involved in a program that rewards hard work. She said she realized that there was some risk of injury but was shown telling her son to “get them before they get you.” Hmm. Not exactly mom of the year material if you ask me.
There is a definite difference between good, healthy competition and coaches and parents who are just plain nuts.
As the parent of a hockey player currently on the shelf due to a concussion I cannot believe that these people have no concern for the sort of head injuries that these young kids endure.
This is one issue. The issue of bad behavior is a separate one.
While officiating a bunch of games this weekend I noticed that some of the kids playing were totally out of hand, disrespectful of their coaches, other players and certainly the spirit of the game. What came out of the mouths of kids ages 8 to 10 was just beyond belief. And the shenanigans that went on on the ice was pretty scary – considering their age and the prospect that some of these same kids will be playing higher levels.
To be honest, I never had a kid call me a fat ass, and the frequency of players that age dropping the “F bomb” was beyond belief. I actually asked one kid if he talked to his mom or grandmom that way. His answer? “It doesn’t matter, the game’s pretty much over anyway.” Wow. And his coach while promising he’d talk to the kid about it didn’t seem too anxious to confront the kid – probably because the kid was one of the better players and probably has a “Tykes” kind of parent.
It’s pretty sad. The lack of respect and bad behavior in youth sports just seems to get worse each year. But don’t worry. We’ll just keep on handing out trophies, telling these little kids what they’re doing is just fine. Sort of makes you wonder what the kids will be like in another five years…
— Andy Hachadorian