By Ken Reed

The latest from youth sports world: A youth football league was forced to cancel its season due to violent threats against league officials.

Nice. It’s always great when adults provide such good role models for 12-year-olds.

Earlier this month ammunition shells were placed at the front gate to the youth football field. The shells had league officers names printed in permanent marker on them. A prior game was rescheduled due to violent threats and a fight between parents broke out at a game this season as well.

Increasingly aggressive — and sometimes violent — parental behavior is just part of the problem in today’s youth sports world.

Another troubling trend is that fewer kids are participating in youth sports these days. The reason? Kids don’t like the pressure adults (parents, coaches) put on them in this ultra competitive youth sports scene — a situation marked by elite club travel teams and one-sport specialization at the expense of recreational leagues for all young people.

The number of total youth sports played by children plummeted 10 percent in the five years between 2009 and 2014.

In a well-done article by the Washington Post’s Michael S. Rosenwald, youth sports author Mark Hyman, a sports management professor at George Washington University, summarizes the situation nicely.

“The system is now designed to meet the needs of the most talented kids,” says Hyman.

“We no longer value participation. We value excellence. The adults have won. If we wiped the slate clean and reinvented youth sports from scratch by putting the physical and emotional needs of kids first, how different would it look? Nothing would be recognizable.”

There’s too much “adult” in youth sports and it’s hurting our kids.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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