There are many who would say that if you’re not cheating, then you’re not trying. While some may see some sense to that argument, it’s often hypocritically employed or understood in terms of bending but not breaking the rules. Adults do this all the time. Bill Belichick, who is often regarded as the greatest football coach of all time, and certainly of our generation, has had his fair share of run-ins with league officials and the rule book. The Patriots were caught spying on opposing team’s practices, and there was that whole incident with the deflated footballs that resulted in an almost-suspension of Tom Brady. If Bill Belichick can do it, why shouldn’t our kids do it too?
Context is king. Children are not adults and adults who break the rules are often aware of the consequences of being caught. Moral issues aren’t always black and white, but children don’t always have the emotional or intellectual maturity to realize why right and wrong exist and why it’s important to live in general. Adults can catch the nuances of a moral dilemma and are often forced into difficult decisions that seem to violate one set of ethics or another. While this argument may not apply to the New England Patriots, it nonetheless is a serious question that requires emotional, experiential, and moral guidance.
Why It’s Important to Condemn Cheating for Children
Vince Lombardi once said: “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” But he clearly wasn’t referring to a children’s sports league when he devised that quote, and there were moments when he regretted ever having said it at all. The fact is, integrity matters. It matters more than winning. Winning is great, but how you win matters more.
Lombardi also said:
‘I wish to hell I’d never said it…What I believe is, if you go out on a football field, or any endeavor in life, and you leave every fiber of what you have on the field, then you’ve won.”
Playing dirty and cheating has no place in a children’s sports league. While the Belichick strategies were an example of a coach doing everything in his power to win, while bending and not breaking the rules, consider what happened to former Saints coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams was putting bounties on the opposing team’s valuable players and offering his own players financial incentive for injuring them. There’s a fine line between doing everything in your power to win and having an unhealthy and unsportsmanlike attitude. Consider this fact in terms of children who may not always see the line for what it is.
Sports are about culture, and they’re about character. Your children are not getting paid millions of dollars to be national celebrities, and their paycheck and livelihood are not dependent on their capacity to throw and run. As parents, moral ambiguities like the difference between Bill Belichick and Gregg Williams are difficult to explain, and even more difficult for children to understand. Youth sports should be about character building and not winning by any means necessary. We must not teach our children that Machiavellianism is a means to succeed. On a long enough timescale, those who employ such tactics fail more miserably and more utterly, than those simply lose a game or two.
For more information and thoughts on children’s sports leagues, please have a look at our webpage, League Network.
Youth sports should be about having fun, but that doesn’t make the sting of a loss any easier to handle for either children or parents, especially for those who are very competitive by nature. It often happens that parents end up being more disappointed than their children, or at least they show that outwardly. Kids feel the pressure too, and it helps if their parents understand that their children likely already feel bad about making a key mistake in a major game. The question becomes how do parents address the issue of defeat, especially when that defeat perhaps comes by a key mistake made by your child in a game? How do parents soften the blow without completely eroding their children’s competitive drive?
Everyone Makes Mistakes and Everyone Fails
This comes as no great surprise to those who have been there before, but even Tom Brady throws interceptions and loses games. It’s the issue of how he relates to those mistakes and losses that sets him apart from athletes with lesser talent. He certainly doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself or questioning his ability. What he does do is work harder, learn from the mistake, and move forward. We can all learn a little bit from the psychology of Tom Brady, because it’s largely his defeats and failures that have driven his success.
You’ll often notice NFL coaches, even after big wins, talking about how their teams have room to improve. The next day those same coaches are in there studying tape, and looking over plays where someone was out of position, the wrong read was made, and a play that had every opportunity to succeed ended up failing. This is precisely what helps their team improve and builds champions.
Successes build confidence, but confidence doesn’t translate into improvement. Mistakes translate into improvement, and that’s the lesson that needs to be taught in the wake of failure.
Not Everyone is Cut Out for Competition and Sports
Children are sensitive creatures, and no matter how badly we want to see them succeed, we must first acknowledge that sports is an arena in which not everyone excels. The moment when it stops being fun for them and they dread the experience as opposed to looking forward to it, we need to acknowledge their feelings and respect their limitations enough to allow them to find an arena in which they can succeed. The world is full of wonderful opportunities, and sports are just one of the many out there that children can excel in.
Competition Brings Out the Best and Worst in Everyone
Successful people often talk about the role that competition has in driving their success, but they don’t often talk about the toll it’s taken on their relationships and health. There’s a time for competition, and there’s a time for cooperation. There is also a time to sit back and relax and enjoy. A full life experience is not all about one of these things, but all of them. In the end, losing a game is not the worst thing in the world.
For more information on key issues involving youth sports, please visit our website at League Network.
There are a number of reasons why parents encourage their children to play youth sports; from physical fitness, to engaging in recreational activities, to truly enjoying the sport themselves and hoping their children succeed. While not every child has a natural talent for sports, every parent hopes that their child is going to be the one who hits the game-winning home run and is carried off the field by their teammates.
Unfortunately, this trend has resulted in children giving up organized team sports in record numbers. Nearly 70% of all kids will not participate in an organized sport after the age of 13.
Why? The issue has been debated for a long time, but many feel like youth programs are more results-oriented and competitive than they are fun. In other words, the only kids who end up sticking with the sport are the ones that are very good at it.
Are Professional Sports Fun?
They are for spectators, but are the players having fun? It’s a difficult question because there’s so much pressure put on them to succeed. When they’re doing well, they are celebrated, but when they’re doing poorly, it’s not so fun. That’s because professional sports are a results-oriented league. No one cares if you’re building character when your team is win-less. It’s stressful, difficult, and often emotionally turbulent.
While there’s a place for competitive youth sports that are results-oriented, we want to be more proactive in teaching our kids to enjoy the game regardless of whether they win or lose. In other words, there’s a place for competitive youth sports as well as those that are just focused on having fun.
Fun Youth Sports for Children
For children under 10, youth sports should be about having a good time and enjoying the experience. There’s a time to learn about the game, build character, learn teamwork, sportsmanship, and other necessary skills that we all use on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not we play sports later in life. Much of the problem with today’s youth programs is that parents and coaches have forgotten where to draw the line.
This has created a situation where the children dread the practices and games, explaining why they opt out of sports at a young age. There’s no reason for there to be any pressure involved in the process. Parents hope their kids turn out to be the next famous athlete, but when they criticize them for making a mistake in a game, it robs the child of their ability to enjoy the process. When that happens the journey, is over.
While there are competitive leagues for youths that show an aptitude for the game, the majority of leagues out there for children are meant to be recreational. It’s important for both parents and coaches to recognize that not every league is about bringing home a title.
For more articles concerning youth sports leagues, please visit our website: League Network.
When you hear the name Bill Buckner, what do you think of? Is it that he led the National League in in 1980 with .324 batting average? How about his career batting average of .289? Not likely. What about Scott Norwood? It’s definitely not all the game-winning field goals he kicked for the Buffalo Bills in 1990 and the years prior. Instead, it’s their tremendous mistake that comes to mind. The agony of defeat never felt so heavy as it did on those players, and the many like them who when thrust into a position of making a key play that would decide a game for their team, they ultimately failed.
What’s true about moments like those is that isn’t fair to lay all the blame on them. Buckner’s fatal error in game six of that World Series and the Mets’ win forced a game seven that Buckner’s team, the Red Sox ultimately lost. The Bills had one of the most potent offenses that football had ever known that year, but managed a measly 19 points against the Giants. It isn’t fair that these players are going to be remembered forever for one mistake, but that is the cruelty of celebrity and the price of fame. In that regard, children playing sports have it a bit easier.
We Win as a Team
Professional, amateur, and even children’s sports are emotional. If it’s your child who centered the puck late in the game and it resulted in the winning goal, it is likely that he or she likely feels the weight of that. If it’s your kid that missed a spare in the 10th frame to lose a game, you can understand that they don’t feel particularly good about. Did they fumble trying to get extra yardage in a close game with the clock winding down? Bad mistake, for sure. Did they chase a pitch outside of the strike zone with two out, bases loaded, and a full count? A good coach should let them know that their mistakes, while painful, are okay.
Good coaches never lay the blame firmly onto one player’s lap. Even at the professional level, one mistake never loses the game. If a game comes down to one play late, it’s because the other team fought hard and there were mistakes made that kept them close. A coach’s job is to remind every player that defeat is something that can be learned from.
Learning from Our Mistakes
Coaches at the youth sports level tend to recognize that mistakes are not necessarily bad. They happen because their players are still in the process of learning. Regardless of what sport our children are involved in, the team element can never be forgotten. The key for every player on the team is to improve and to grow from the experience.
As the stakes get higher in high school, college, and the professional level, the issue is no different. Buckner went on to play four more years of baseball and Norwood, stayed with the Bills for several more seasons. We simply let our kids know that even good players make mistakes and learn from them. We remind them of their successes.
For more information on youth sports programs, please visit our web-page at League Network.
Ever since video games were introduced in the late 1970’s children and parents alike have been glued to their screens enjoying virtual reality. Sports, on the other hand, have enjoyed a much longer history and a more storied tradition. Nonetheless, many parents and children prefer e-sports to the real thing. Is that good? It’s hard to say. There are certainly many qualities that e-sports have that make them worth their while, but when compared to real life sports there’s no comparison.
Yet as video game technology gets better and better, and the cost of playing sports gets higher and higher, e-sports do present parents with an opportunity to allow their kids to enjoy sports without actually playing them.
E-Sports are More Active Than You Think
With childhood obesity rates on the rise and sedentary living being a primary cause, many video game developers sought to make video games more physically active. Nintendo’s Wii was the first console video game system to do this. It integrated physical motion with a motion sensor controller that can could basically take the place of a joystick and controller. While moving your arms around and moving around a room is nowhere near in the same ballpark as running, jumping, kicking, and throwing, video games have done a good job of making play more active.
E-Sports are More Social Than You Think
Modern gaming systems allow friends to play each other over the internet. There’s no more sitting alone playing a video game, even when you’re doing just that. Players can communicate over headsets and talk to one another. Of course, it’s nowhere near as social as physically being in the presence of other human beings.
There’s Almost No Risk of Injury With E-Sports
While there are certainly those that have found a way to injure themselves playing video games, the likelihood of your child suffering a career-ending e-sports injury is relatively low. It’s also true that contact sports like football are quite dangerous. There’s a risk of broken bones, sprains, and concussions. While much effort has gone into making the sport less dangerous, the threat is still present. For example. baseball has a serious risk of injury. Being struck by baseball traveling at many miles can be potentially life-threatening. Even non-contact sports like bowling can damage knees and wrists.
The Biggest Con of E-Sports
The biggest con of e-sports is that there’s no room for character development or self-knowledge and improvement. While there’s probably someone out there that can make an argument to the contrary, the truth is that youth sports instill character, sportsmanship, teamwork, and values in its players. While much of this is lost through the competitive nature of sports, it’s important part of what athletics has to offer, and one of the few things that e-sports will never be able to simulate. It’s important, even for children that have no aspirations towards professional sports, to learn these values and improve themselves.
For more information and thoughts on youth sports leagues, please visit our website League Network