This Is Why We Might Be Setting Up Athletes For Failure In Life

This Is Why We Might Be Setting Up Athletes For Failure In Life
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Addressing The Reality

Throughout the years I have watched a lot of AAU games. I've been apart of and coached multiple youth camps and witnessed tons of kids play basketball and other sports.

I've also seen and met tons of parents and coaches who push these young kids to succeed in sports and invest so much time, energy and money into their athletic development.

I've seen and heard stories of parents celebrating when their child scores a touchdown or hits a three in a game, yet hardly acknowledge when the kid gets a good grade on a test in school.

I've seen and heard stories of coaches who allow kids to keep playing without imposing any disciplinary actions when the kid gets in trouble at school or talks to other people disrespectfully.

I would never advise someone on how to discipline or raise their kids, but the way that I've seen a lot of these coaches and parents handle youth athletics these days might just set these kids up for a failure later in their lives.

Why This Is The Case

Many young kids are celebrated for their capacity to achieve in sports. A lot of the time their athletic ability overshadows other things that they can do in life. Over time, it is not uncommon for their worth as a person to be contingent on their achievements in the game. The risk here is that the child feels inherently more loving and more worthwhile when they achieve.

"When the achievable end, or these children “fail”, they can feel less lovable and less worthwhile. Research and practice suggest it is important to separate a child’s worth from their achievements or natural ability. They are not inherently a better person because they achieved – or less of a person if they did not. Importantly, when a child does achieve, there is cause for celebration. But we suggest celebrating the effort and attitude that got them there. This places value on the actual attributes, such as effort and attitude, that will underpin successful transitions later in life."

In hindsight, we as a society are telling these kids that they are only great when they do well and if they're not winning or accomplishing feats they're essentially worthless.

It seems like if they aren't succeeding on the playing field i.e, scoring touchdowns, hitting home runs and shooting three's, then they aren't worthy of praise, encouragement, and acknowledgment in other areas of life.

When I was growing up, my mom never made it a goal to emphasis or praise our athletic achievements. There was never a pressure to succeed in sports, only in school. When my brother and I did well in sports, pertaining to our performance, it was acknowledged, but it was always secondary. If we didn't do well in school, there simply wasn't any extra-circular activities. Simple as that.

The main problem with all of this is that a kids ability to do other things is not only ignored but that they essentially don't matter if they're not successful in sports. They aren't being taught to really use sports in the right way.

Sports should never be the measuring stick for a child to achieve great things throughout their life.

Can We Even Solve This?

We have to do more as a society to push the message across that sports is not the end all be all for our youth.

We have to let them see that their success in life is not predicated a pee-way football game that they lost in overtime.

Most of all we have to teach athletes at younger ages that sports are just a platform to use for other goals in life. The real value is what you get out of the game and what lessons you take away from it.

A little league MVP trophy will never last or even be relevant 10 years from now. But you know what will?

The relationships built from working in a team, the preparation for that game and that entire season, the vision and goals that are set at the beginning of the year and the drive and will-power that it takes to even win that trophy.

This is what we should be reiterating and promoting. This is how we solve this. We have to educate athletes and parents to see that at the heart of it all, sports are just a means to an end. Moreover, that everything the game teaches you will prepare you for anything going forward.

Sports can take people places and do things for them that they probably wouldn't be able to do otherwise, but the best thing anyone could ever do is use the game and not let it use them.

But it all starts with addressing the reality of it all and shifting the narrative. Sports don't define anyone and never will.

An athlete's worth is always greater than one situation, accomplishment or occurrence and it always will be.

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