Tuesday night, after the Robertson Lady Cardinals basketball team defeated Thoreau, an ugly scene erupted outside the gymnasium. Adults and children were involved in a fight that resulted in several people being held up by arena security and calling the police. This was all likely caused by back-and-forth exchanges between the fans during the game. When the buzzer sounded, however, the conversation did not end, leading to extracurricular activities outside the arena. All those scum around a kid’s basketball game. That’s what high school kids are, they’re kids, and yet incidents like this keep happening at youth sporting events. As sports fans, we have lost perspective.
Youth sports, which encompasses all levels from birth to high school, are not strictly about wins and losses. Of course you want to win, as former New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards said. “You play to win the game.” You play to win, but youth sports is not a win-win business. Youth sports aim to help develop young people both physically and mentally. The goal of youth sports is to help educate the children who participate in them so that they are better athletes and, more importantly, better people who come out of it than they went into it. This concept has been changed for our team or my child must win at all costs, regardless of the consequences. This mentality is failing us children across the country, and this mentality is emerging in this region.
It’s not someone outside the sports community saying that. I’m a big sports fan, my job is sports, that’s how I pay my bills and how I eat. When I was playing high school and college basketball, I was as competitive as anyone else on the court. People who play this sport should, and really should, be very competitive. People in the crowd, however, should focus on supporting their child and their team, not badmouthing everyone, and not creating conflict with opposing fans. The game is about the kids on the floor, not the people in the stands. I love it when a high school sporting event has a big crowd and a great atmosphere, but we can accomplish these things without clashing with those who disagree with us.
The most important people in youth sports are the players, the children. We have forgotten that and there is not just one person or group of people to blame, it is a societal failure. The goal of these youth sports should be to create top young men and women who, upon graduating from high school, are ready to face the adversity that exists once you go to college or enter the job market. It’s not so you can brag about the game you won in high school or the state championship team your kid was on. Youth sports have become a selfish culture, and it starts with adults.
One lesson that sport should teach you is responsibility. If I return the ball to the basketball court, it affects everyone on the team. Now, instead of holding ourselves accountable for the mistakes we make or the mistakes of the children, we seek to blame everyone else. Whether it’s the coach or the referee or whoever you choose as the scapegoat. Just as children on the field should be held accountable for their mistakes, adults in the stands should be held accountable for their actions. Coaches everywhere will ask their children to be responsible for their actions on the pitch, the adults involved must be responsible for their actions off it. For adults, life is bigger than denigrating teenagers in athletics, it’s time to start acting on it. Instead of denigrating children, let’s support them.
Twenty years from now, when all the kids currently playing sports in high school are in their thirties, winning and losing won’t matter. It doesn’t matter if they won the blue trophy or lost in the quarter-finals or didn’t make the playoffs at all. It will have virtually no impact on their lives at that time. What will matter are the lessons they will have learned through youth sports, which in this community a large percentage of children participate from the age of 5 until they are seniors in high school. . We need to start teaching children the right lessons in youth sports, responsibility and respect in particular, so they can succeed outside of sport. It starts with adults.