No matter what I write about in the area of coaching youth sports, most readers immediately comment, "But it's all about kids having fun." Internally, I respond, "No it's not." The moral of the story is that adults should not believe that the purpose of youth sports is only for having fun.
Do not get me wrong, I believe having fun is very important in everything, especially in youth sports, as I wrote a two hundred-page sports book on helping adults keep the fun in youth sports. However, there is a big difference between keeping the fun in sport and with having fun as the essence of sport.
I am all for parents encouraging kids to have fun playing youth sports. It is no different than doing the same for all activities, school, church, work, hanging with friends, etc"¦ It certainly beats the alternative of not enjoying what one is doing. However, as much as that is one goal of youth sports and hopefully the result of playing sport, it is not the essence of playing. If it were all about just having fun, there would be no professional sports, as all would have quit the minute the fun stopped. Fun comes and goes, no matter how good a coach involved or how successful an athlete is.
My contention is that wouldn't people rather have kids learn many life lessons from sport, even when it is not fun. I believe most sport parents are willing to sacrifice a little fun for their child for learning the following:
Taking those things away from playing youth sports, and more, would be invaluable for the rest of kids' lives, and they are not all about having fun. Once again, enjoying them is better than the alternative, but "having fun" is just one important segment of youth sports, not the only thing, and not the essence of it.
Not to get "all philosophical" here, but sports are a part of life, and I believe life and competition are for having a greater purpose than just having fun. Real life contentment, when all said and done, comes from having purpose, and living one's life to fulfill that purpose. Of course, most do not find that purpose at a young age, but the things learned from sport help deal with future tough situations and for attaining one's life purpose. Enjoying that striving-to-attain-one's-purpose is a great bonus, which not all have the opportunity of doing, but it is better than having only the goal of having fun, as that is a shallow goal. The goal of reaching one's potential in life and sport is a better goal and leads to contentment, in the end.
This is not to say that sports are necessary to learn life lessons, as they come from many areas of life, but the very nature of competition, defined as a test of skill or ability; a contest and rivalry between two or more striving for the same things helps bring about challenging life situations, which most encounter in their future.
In conclusion, youth sports are a great venue for helping kids learn life lessons, hopefully without adults taking the fun out of them, but with the realization that a greater purpose is involved than only having fun. Of course, the next time your son or daughter says they no longer are having fun playing a sport, creates a life situation parents must deal with, and a story for another day.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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