We're Not Taking Kids' Sports Seriously Enough
Jonathan Mahler thinks that's contributing to our 'sick' sports culture
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted May 30, 2013 1:29 PM CDT
Kids need to learn to play soccer the right way, Jonathan Mahler argues.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The story of the 17-year-old soccer player accused of fatally punching a referee on the pitch was indeed indicative of "America's sick youth sports culture," writes Jonathan Mahler at Bloomberg. (Other examples might include this and this.) But the conventional wisdom about why is all wrong. "The problem isn’t that we take youth sports too seriously," he writes. "It’s that we don’t take them seriously enough." Instead of acknowledging the natural urge to determined competition, we cling to the fantasy that these are innocent games "where nobody's keeping score."

As a result, "kids haven’t been taught to respect the games they’re playing. Parents haven’t been told to shut up and let the coaches do their job." We should be treating these sports as the serious endeavors they can be; Mahler's son practices soccer nine hours a week. "As I see it, he's getting a second education on the soccer field—one that emphasizes discipline, perseverance … and the ability to cope with disappointment." Encouraging kids to get serious about their chosen pursuits will foster maturity—and America will "get some world-class professional athletes in the bargain." Click for the full column.

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Plato
May 31, 2013 12:05 PM CDT
I am not tying to put anyone down, I am merely expressing my opinion based on my more than seven decades of living. I am lucky and I know it, I was a strong tough country kid and my High School was relatively small, so I played varsity first string football and make the varsity track team. I received respect from my peers and I felt macho, that's a good feeling. Did I learn character, integrity, team work from sports {?}, no not much. I learned to do my utmost to do what was expected of me, but I already knew that. I am for far less school against school competition and much more in favor of intramural sports within each school. Because so many more students can actively compete. Our schools are so large now that only a very few can make the team. Being a spectator of sports is fine, but I much prefer being a player, even if I am competing against guys no more talented than I am.
winterfairy
May 31, 2013 9:29 AM CDT
I reffed for a while and I couldn't count the number of times I had to call unsportsmanlike conduct on the players and coaches. Every single time I did, I would get some remark like "the pros do that". Its PRO SPORTS that set the tone. The win at all costs, hurt the other guy mentality is not lost on the parents, players or even coaches. It would break my heart to call a foul and see the utter, vitriolic hatred the player would send me for even the most obvious calls because he thought the PROS did that and they were his example. All the crap you have heard about learning life skills with sports in high school is just that -- its crap. Keep your kids away from the stuff, trust me, I know.
NoFun
May 31, 2013 5:37 AM CDT
All sport is a collection of baby games that no sane person should take remotely seriously.