By Ken Reed
A lot has been written — including by this writer — about why between 70 and 80 percent (depending on the study) of kids quit organized sports by age 13.
There are a lot of theories as to why this is the case but I think Public Health teacher Julianna W. Miner nailed it in a recent Washington Post commentary, when she wrote:
“It’s not fun anymore because it’s not designed to be … Our culture no longer supports older kids playing for the fun of it.”
The designers of youth sports leagues are adults, of course, not children. And most adults care deeply about the outcome of kids’ games. As such, adults design youth sports to cater to the needs of the most athletic and competitive players. Expectations placed on kids by adults increase every year as children get closer to age 13.
And so kids, by the thousands, quit sports annually. Sadly, they quit at a time when sports can do them a lot of good in terms of physical fitness, dealing with adversity, learning the value of teamwork, etc.
Thankfully, not all adults are obsessed with winning. Some parents and coaches have youth sports in their proper perspective.
Here’s a perfect example, courtesy of Glendale Little League in Wisconsin. Posted on their Little League fields is the following sign:
1. These are KIDS.
2. This is a GAME.
3. Coaches are VOLUNTEERS.
4. Umpires are HUMAN.
5. Your child is NOT being scouted by the Brewers today.
Glendale Little League
How perfect is that? That sign needs to be posted at every youth sports field, gym and ice rink in America.
Maybe as the “price” of admission, all adults entering a youth sports venue should be required to read this message and sign off on it.
Too drastic? Maybe. But I bet a positive side benefit would be a lot more kids playing sports at age 13 and beyond.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, a SHAPE America board member, former national physical education teacher of the year, and one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Episode #4 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Biggest Issue in Sports Today? Brain Trauma – The guest is Patrick Hruby, a journalist who has done extensive research and in-depth writing on the topic of brain trauma in sports, most notably football.
Episode #3 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Styles with Sports Sociologist Jay Coakley – The guest is veteran sports sociologist Jay Coakley, a former college athlete who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Notre Dame.
Episode #2 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: College & High School Athletics: Where Do We Go From Here? The guest is John Gerdy, a former college athlete and NCAA and SEC administrator who became a sports reformer later in his career.
Episode #1: The inaugural episode of League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast. The topic is Title IX and equal opportunity in sports. The guest is long-time Title IX and civil rights activist Donna Lopiano.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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