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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)


The obsession with winning and being the best is killing youth sports.

The obsession with publicizing youth sports successes exaggerates this obsession even further and forces parents into FOMO (Fear of Missing Out - my previous column) and unrealistic parental expectations. We need to bring back the fun and focus on development, quit worrying about winning and "keeping up with the Joneses" and stop publicly boasting about our kids' youth sports successes.

We are causing kids, parents and families to attach their identity and self-esteem to their youth sport achievement.

I beg publications like the Telegraph Herald to please don't publish the success of a youth sports team or individuals. Doing so puts added pressure on kids who have yet to really accomplish anything.

It puts added pressure on parents, too, as they live in a state of FOMO when they see only the successes of other kids. They probably did well in a tournament or meet that was exclusive & only exclusive because it probably cost hundreds of dollars to enter, not to mention the time and expense of travel. Further, some ego driven parent or club representative had to call this into the paper to get it published.

Just saying, but even our local paper doesn't send a reporter to cover youth sports.

Social media cranks up the pressure even more. It seems everyone is posting pictures their kid's team wearing a first-place medal. I don't see many posts about kids getting last place in a tournament, but the kids got better and had fun.

Society has made it all about winning. The pressure is cranked up for these kids for the rest of their career and there is pressure on the parents to dedicate even more time and resources for their kids to be the "best."

If they don't win every event, are they a failure?

And don't get me started about rankings. I recently had a conversation with a kid I know who told me his U10 baseball team was playing the No. 2 team in the state this weekend. I could not help but laugh. Who is ranking U10 teams? Who is looking this up and then telling their 10-year-old this information? The kids aren't ranking teams, so it has to be some obsessed parents or coaches who are in charge & and people actually check the rankings like they really mean something!

I don't know many young children who read the newspaper, and Facebook or Twitter don't allow kids under 13 to have an account. So that makes this that much more disturbing, as all of this seems to be more for the parents egos rather than the kids.

We need to get a grip as a society when it comes to youth sports. Can't we just post "loved watching Johnny and his teammates play the game they love today" and not add pressure to kids that are out there to have fun? Let's attach our kids' identities and self-esteem to our values and not youth sport achievement.

Dan Rothert is the head men's soccer coach, director of soccer and associate athletic director at Loras College.

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July 16, 2018


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