Sunday, January 25, 2009

High School Sports Obsession

The case of America's obsession with sports, seen played out most often in the high school and club sport realm, just got worse in Colorado with the most recent meeting of the high school association. Sadly, with the approval of sports practices during holiday breaks, CHSAA (Colorado High School Activities Association) has once again shown it does not have the best interests of students at heart. The boards' already weak eligibility requirements reveal a lack of interest in academics. Now, the board has shown a disregard for the emotional well being of kids by ignoring the importance of "family time" and the simple need for "a break." Any practices offered by coaches will be "voluntary" in name only, as no athlete will risk disappointing a coach and no coach will risk allowing the competition to get an advantage.

Spokesman Bill Reader claimed the change was necessary because "we're in a different era" now. He's right about that - we are even more sports-obsessed than we were. There's no legitimate reason why teams need more practice, but there is plenty of evidence that coaches aren't wise enough or secure enough to know when to take a break. Before committing to increased emphasis on sports, parents and coaches should read Fred Engh's book Why Johnny Hates Sports. It's a book that asks very important questions about youth sports, and for Colorado students, having to practice on Christmas is now one of the answers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My children have particpated in organized sports for several years now and what I have seen is alarming. Parents are so obsessed with their kids' achievement in sports to the point that school is secondary. As a matter of fact, some parents will look for schools that give little or no homework so that their kid can have more practice time, and some of these schools preform very poor academically. Coaches make you feel guilty for missing practices even if it is for school work. As your child's skill level increases so does the pressure. Another thing that really,really bothers me is that nobody is willing to challenge questionable coaching practices such as fixing draws or turning a blind eye to cheating simply because the coach in question has churned out winners and is an ex-champion.In other words, he has status. Of course, I am not talking your child's own coach, in that case you can switch to a different coach. I am talking about coaches from the other teams. Your child will basically have to deal with this at every tournament. I find this contradicts everything I try to teach my children:honesty, humility, and fair play. Sports enthusiasts love to put their ex-champions on a pedestal and any negative comments on your part will bring great misery (i.e. people berating you with great conviction). At this point, I don't see how being in organized sports will benefit my children any further. They have become mentally tougher and have become very physically fit but I think it is time to stop competing. They will probably chose a differnt sport or maybe continue in the same sport but either way it will be at a recreational level. I am sure some people have had better experiences than me but I wanted to share what I have seen personally. I just want to point out the negative aspects that perhaps will benefit someone before they make a decision to enrol their child in a competitive program.