Last week, Bob Molinaro had this comment in his weekly column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“A fine balance: Our kids need more coaches that can create enjoyable athletic environments. So says a Utah State University study that reports that the average child today spends fewer than three years playing organized sports and quits by age 11. Financial issues also chase them away. But mostly, the kids say they aren’t having fun.”
That made me think of the old Laurel and Hardy films because that is an example of “another fine mess”. Kids are not having fun playing sports to the point that they stop playing when they are only 11 years old and that must be caused by something other than the games themselves. After all, the sports we are generally talking about here (baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis…) have all existed for a long time and all of them used to command healthy and enthusiastic participation beyond age 11. So, I thought I had better check out this study.
The study is a collaborative effort between the Utah State Families in Sports Lab and the Aspen Institute. Here are a few of the specific findings:
- In 2019, 39% of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 played some form of organized sports.
- A separate study done in 2008 done by the Sport and Fitness Industry Association found that 45%of kids in that age range played some form of organized sports then.
- Of the kids who play a sport and then stop participating, the average tenure of their participation is 2.86 years.
- Kids are not quitting a sport to take up another one. The survey found that situation happened in only 15% of the cases where a kid dropped out of a sport.
- Kids are single threaded in sports these days. The survey found that 45% of kids between the ages of 6 and 12 play only one sport.
- A major factor in their decision to quit is that they say they stopped having fun playing that sport. [Some parents reported that their children devoted up to 60 hours per week on their sport during the sport’s season. That’s not fun; that’s a chore.]
- Another factor influencing the decision is that parents yielded to cost factors associated with continued participation.
The fact that the chronological adults associated with plenty of youth sports dramatically over-react to the importance of such events has been evident for years. It would seem from the data here that the pressure exerted by those adults is beginning to catch up with itself; participation is trending down. I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness here; there is a major problem with youth sports in America and the biggest component of that problem is that adults have wrung all the fun out of participation by the kids. I wish I could say I had an idea as to how to reverse that situation – – but I do not. Here is a link to the results of this study.
As if that news was not a sufficiently bleak way to start your week, another item for today is the latest in the Antonio Brown soap opera. Over the weekend, he threatened to retire from the NFL if he could not wear the same helmet he has worn in the past during the 2019 season and then reversed course to say he would play with the news helmet but would sue the NFL if he got a head injury wearing the new helmet they mandated.
[Aside: I think we are about 2 more oddball incidents involving Antonio Brown before the following happens. Terrell Owens calls a press conference; he stands at a podium with a picture of Antonio Brown projected behind him; he looks at the assembled scribes and commentators and says, “And you guys thought I was a pain in the ass…?”]
According to reports, these “new helmets” are the result of testing overseen by the NFL and the NFLPA and the “certification” of these helmets has been done jointly by the NFL and the NFLPA. This is part of the attempt by both organizations to improve player safety – even though anyone smart enough to recognize that the acronym NFL does not have the letters arranged in alphabetical order knows for sure that pro football players will continue to suffer head injuries using the “new helmets”.
As much as Antonio Brown may think that this “new helmet” mandate is aimed at him, it is not. Last year more than 2 dozen NFL players used helmets that will not be allowable in 2019 and – I know that Brown may not want to hear this – but at least 2 of those “other players” are more important to their teams than he is to his team. The two “other players” I refer to here are Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
A quick summary of the 2019 Antonio Brown soap opera would be:
- He refuses to wear the new certified helmet to protect his head.
- He neglected to wear the proper protective clothing on his feet during cryotherapy resulting in frostbite.
- Approximately halfway between his head and his feet is the terminal aperture to his alimentary canal; he is behaving just like that body part.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers have enjoyed their quiet and focused training camp in Latrobe, PA this summer.
Finally, I began today with a comment from late last week. Brad Dickson had this Tweet also from late last week and it seems appropriate in 2019:
“Today is National Book Lovers Day. Americans are largely ignoring the day as they prepare for the huge festivals and parades of the upcoming National Emoji Week.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………