For the Love of Sports


Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to jp26jp

Parents in youth sports have gotten out of control and students shouldn’t feel pressured to stick to one sport because of them (Photo courtesy of Pixabay, photo credits to jp26jp).

In 2014 roughly 26 million children in the US are involved in sports. However, when you look at children playing sports after they turn thirteen, around seventy percent of them quit. There could be many factors on the field or court to contribute to this, but one of the main factors could be off the field. Parents in the sidelines often have an adverse effect on the players. Thirty-seven percent of children say that they wish that parents weren’t allowed to attend games and thirty-five percent said they intend to quit after the season because of their parents’ actions. You may be thinking, “What could have led athletes to be this annoyed by their parents?”

One reason is the harmful comments made by many parents to players from the sidelines. In fact, forty-five percent of kids report verbal abuse while playing sports. This kind of behavior is unacceptable from parents who should be encouraging their kids not pushing them. Every kid has a limit and enough verbal abuse will push any kid over it. Sports should also be a stress reliever for kids not a stressor, but with the stress put on the kids from parents it easily becomes a one.

Another reason is that many parents push their kids to focus on one sport. In order to do the best at a single sport, the child is usually forced to participate in travel sports or the upper level of a sport. This leads to the kid having practices every night and long hours on the road to compete in games. This busy schedule puts unnecessary stress on the schedules of both the child and the parent. The real motive behind this is the hope for a college scholarship and a professional career, but the reality is that less than one percent of kids end up becoming professional athletes. All of the sweat, blood, and tears poured into a career is often lost by high school. In fact, eighty percent of athletes quit by high school.

Besides pushing kids to focus on one sport, many parents put a lot of work, effort, and money into their child’s career. In fact, nearly twenty percent of U.S. families spend $12,000 on youth sports every year. This is like another investment for many U.S. families. This forces parents to seek success from their child, but this is about as good of a retirement plan as planning to win the lottery. However, just because a parent is financially and personally invested in their children, does not mean verbally abusing them or the referees is acceptable.

I went to one of my brother’s soccer games and I was shocked by the lack of respect from the parents. I heard parents scream at the referees and their children, insults flew from the sidelines. At one point in the game a parent went as far as to confront the referee. The parent had to be removed from the field kicking and screaming. This behavior is unacceptable from parents who should be showing their kids how to respect authority and how to show good sportsmanship, but instead we see the total opposite. It brings up the question of why parents are so shocked when their kids are so disrespectful.

The next generation now has an interesting decision to make. Will they pressure their kids like previous generations have been pressured or will they let their kids love the game? The decision is theirs.