By Ken Reed
We have written extensively in the past about the importance of our children being physically active. That is especially true given that the Covid pandemic has resulted in our kids leading increasingly sedentary lives.
The physical benefits of sports participation and other physical activities can’t be overstated. Our young people need more exercise, especially cardiovascular-based exercise.
That said, there are some potential psychological dangers lurking for kids in youth sports environments. Here are a few psychological risks to look for as a parent or coach:
• Dehumanizing Coaching — It’s important to make sure your son or daughter has a coach that prioritizes holistic development and fun over winning at all costs. There aren’t as many Vince Lomboardi-type, kick-them-in-the-butt youth coaches as there were 10 or 20 years ago but they are still out there. One season with a tyrannical coach could lead to your child dropping out of organized youth sports for good. Talk to other parents about particular coaches and go to early practices. If you see a coach humiliating the young players on the team, get your kid out fast.
• Overbearing Parents — Don’t be that parent! Too many parents have their egos invested in their child’s athletic performance. Over-the-top parents scream at their kids for on-field/on-court mistakes. They spend the ride home from games critiquing their kid’s performance. Remember, the number one reason kids cite for quitting organized sports is adults (parents and coaches) that make playing sports no fun. These are kids, not pro athletes. Also, according to the National Alliance for Youth Sports, approximately 15% of youth sports games involve a confrontation between parents, between parents and officials, between parents and coaches, or between coaches and officials. Kids hate witnessing these “adult” confrontations.
• Showcase Tournaments and Travel Leagues — Too many parents want their kids to get athletic scholarships for college, or even to eventually play pro ball. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself. But it’s critical to keep that hope in perspective. The NCAA estimates that only 3/100ths of one percent of male high school basketball players and 9/100ths of one percent of high school football players will play their sport professionally. The figures are even bleaker for girls. For example, only 2/100ths of one percent of all high school female basketball players will play pro ball. Moreover, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about one percent of 8th graders will end up receiving some financial aid to play NCAA Div. I athletics. That includes partial scholarships. The percentage receiving full athletic scholarships is even smaller.
So, when it comes to youth sports, let’s all relax, and more importantly, let our kids relax.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
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.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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