By Ken Reed
I often say there’s “too much adult in youth sports.” When adults are heavily involved in youth sports, ego-and-greed based decisions and activities are sure to be part of the environment.
Win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) mentalities and policies are increasingly part of the youth sports landscape, as youth sports entrepreneurs (aka youth sports vultures) are lurking and preying on the dreams of young athletes and their parents. We are seeing more “showcase” tournaments, more travel teams, more year-round club teams, more sport-specific trainers, etc. These trends are pricing out kids in lower socio-economic areas and it’s placing unnecessary — and potentially damaging — physical and mental pressure on young people.
Youth sports vultures are commercializing and professionalizing youth sports for kids as young as eight years old. Is there any wonder that nearly 80% of kids drop out of organized team sports by the age of 13?
I recently came across a letter written by Josh Rovner in the Washington Post that nailed the contemporary youth sports experience. Here’s an excerpt:
“By design, this industry doesn’t serve kids. … Privatizing amateur athletics is wrong — and not only because of the astonishing expenses for its customers. In tournament play, profit and victory are core values. Instead of sprawling venues, we should invest in a sports culture where everyone can play.”
Rovner does a nice job of pulling back the curtain on the youth sports industry.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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