Violence in Youth Sports

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Violence In Youth Sports
It's in the churches, it's in the community parks, it's in the schools, it's in the recreation centers - violence in youth sports is a problem, not just in the local communities but all over the country. The behavior of coaches, parents and grandparents is troubling. The results can be tragic, mentally and physically. Parents and coaches get so emotional over the sports that children participate in, that name calling, arguing, fighting and sometimes bodily harm ensue. Out-of-control adults in youth sports are a big, ugly problem. Go to a game, and you'll probably see at least one adult acting like a maniac. About 40 million kids play organized sports in the U.S. An astounding 18 million of them say they have been yelled at, insulted, or called names during practices and events. That's a big reason why 70 percent of kids who play organized sports will quit playing them by age 13 (Cosgrove & Aiani, May 2001). Adults often forget that youth sports are supposed to be fun. Players make mistakes, teams don't always play well, and officials make unpopular calls. But parents, adult spectators, and coaches sometimes get so angry that they yell and curse at players, officials, and one another. Worse, some adults get violent. Adults and kids have been attacked and injured at youth sports events. Last year, a father was killed. Although youth sports attempt to teach our children fairplay and teamwork, too many children are learning "Winning is everything." It's time to restructure youth sports to teach pro-social attitudes and values. In society today children often compete with one another to get into selective schools, on to teams and into school activities. Parents may feel that discouraging competitiveness will put their children at a disadvantage in life. "We want them to relax, have fun and not worry about being the best – but we also want them to have what it takes to be successful" admits, mother Ditte Nielson (Nielson, D. 2002). In a society that believes "winning" is everything and losing indicates weakness and shame, children must be taught how to develop that competitive edge. Children must be taught to fight for what they desire. It's a trait that is used throughout life when seeking acceptance to colleges and universities, being hired above all other applicants for that cutting-edge job or even for acceptance into most social circles. The story still seems too unimaginable to be true. What started as a routine hockey practice in a sleepy little suburban Boston town ended in a powder keg of emotion that would forever change the way we view youth sporting events. In a burst of unfathomable rage, Thomas Junta confronted, attacked and beat to death Michael Costin over what witnesses say was – ironically enough – a disagreement on how rough practice had gone. When Junta's assault ended, Costin lay unconscious in a pool of blood as his children helplessly looked on. Two days later, Costin was pronounced dead (Pallerino, 2003). Darrell J. Burnett, a youth sports psychologist in California, says people blow off steam at youth sports contests because, well, they can. "If I'm angry at work, I know I can't haul off and hit somebody because I'll lose my job," Burnett says. "However, if I go to a youth sports game, what are they going to do to me?" (Grathoff, 2003). Children like to compete, but it's the fun of competing, the excitement of competition, not just the winning that's important to them. Research shows that children learn more effectively when they are having fun. When "60 Minutes" did a program about youth football they found that the emphasis was on winning – to the point it was no longer fun. Children tend to model their attitudes and behavior on adults (parents, coaches, musicians, professional athletes) especially adults that they admire. Violence in youth sports is troubling, especially when it occurs over a poor call made by an official or an inadvertent hit made by one player on...
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