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Are we helping or hurting?

Are we helping or hurting?
July 11
01:00 2019

I have fond memories of my athletic competitions as a child. I won some and I lost some. I felt those losses made me appreciate the victories even more. I didn’t walk away with a medal every tournament or field day, but that was okay with me. Nowadays, with schools and sports teams wanting everyone to feel included, I think they are somewhat doing the kids a disservice.

With every kid getting a “participation” trophy or certificate, I think once they begin to compete in higher level sports, they do not know how to handle adversity or defeat very well. I am not saying all kids, but I just comparing the kids I see now, versus when I was a child.  

As a reporter, I have seen some of the worst behavior from kids in various sports. Verbal outbursts, profanity, disrespect to coaches and officials, and inability to handle negative outcomes are some of the things I have observed in today’s generation of players. I think not allowing kids to fail is one of the major contributors to the negative behavior from some of the players.

When I was a kid, I could not imagine saying or doing some of the things to a coach or official that I have witnessed.  I looked at my coaches as an extension of my parents and respected them as such. Once again, I am not saying every kid does this, I just have seen way too much of it in today’s youth sports.

I firmly believe if we allow kids to fail in youth sports, they will learn how to deal with failure better. Losing builds character, allows you to become a better competitor, and makes you value success when you are triumphant.  

Failing is a part of all areas of life and for most kids, sports play a major role in their lives, so why not teach them it’s okay to fail? As long as you gave it 100 percent, there is no shame in failing.  

When I saw another competitor walking away with a trophy or certificate, that made me fight harder the next time, so I could be the one with the trophy. That drive to succeed carried over to other parts of my life as well.

As adults, many of us deal with failure more than success. I remember filling out nearly 50 job applications before getting my first journalism job. That is 50 failures to one success. I was not deterred by those 50 rejections; it just made me try harder for that dream job. A lot of that ability to handle adversity comes directly from what I learned playing sports as a child.

We have to start taking some accountability in how these kids are acting out there. I understand we have changed the way we play sports today. No longer are sports teams allowed to train, practice and play the same way we did 25 years ago. I know the changes were made to make sports safer, but let’s not take away some of the crucial benefits that sports give a child.

I think kids are more resilient than we give them credit for. We don’t need to celebrate failure the same way we do victory; I think we should celebrate effort more instead. I don’t think a kid will quit a sport just because they did not receive a trophy or certificate.  

Let’s start preparing our kids for the real world and let them know that failure is going to happen. This fantasy world where everyone wins does not exist when they become adults. We should not put them in a situation that causes them to have negative outburst, because they don’t know what to do when adversity comes; instead let them know that they must work harder to come out on top.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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