The youth sports dilemma: Can we find a balance?

Sports and Youth boy and soccer ball This is part of a
week-long series on youth and sports: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This week we’ve chronicled some of the problems plaguing youth sports – and most of them have to do with parents.

    Yelling obscenities at young players, abusive treatment of older kids who are refereeing, and excessive time demands are some of the issues our readers have raised.
    “I’m not sure the values learned in sports today are as beneficial as they once were,” says Dennis Crouch.
    “There is a balance and I’m afraid that ‘winning’ is more important than child development. And, that’s to our country’s detriment.”

    At the same time, we’ve noted the importance of sports – especially given the trends in childhood obesity. It’s a fact that fewer kids play sports now than they once did. There’s a sports elite among youth, who are hyper-competitive, but many kids today just don’t play.

    Childhood obesity is not just an American problem. It’s a global epidemic. It occurs in almost all economically developed societies, according to research published on Over time, the difference between calories eaten and burned has increased, for many reasons. Kids eat more empty calories because these foods are readily available and what kids eat is not as closely supervised as it once was. Kids expend fewer calories due to television and computers – and, yes, less participation in sports.

    So far, my son is young enough to have not encountered the problems we’ve discussed. Runs are not counted where he plays T-ball and everyone gets to bat each inning. I’ve not observed any over-the-top behavior from parents. But, it won’t be long before we do encounter it.

Is there a way to find a balance?

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