| Fred Engh has been involved in youth sports for over thirty-five years as a coach, athletic director, sports educator and parent of seven children. In 1999, he wrote Why Johnny Hates Sports, a book that examines the state of youth sports in America.
"When youth sports are conducted in a safe and healthy environment they provide enormous benefits for children. As caring coaches, parents and administrators of programs, it is our responsibility to ensure that every child enjoys a positive experience in whatever activity they choose. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of thousands of volunteers who strongly believe in the Alliance's mission as well as the wide range of educational programs and services that we offer - we are committed to raising standards and enhancing youth sports worldwide."
- Fred Engh
To purchase Why Johnny Hates Sports, click here. Proceeds are used to further our efforts to improve and enhance youth sports.
Q&A with Fred Engh
Q: What is the organization's biggest accomplishment since its inception in 1981?
FE: While there have been numerous accomplishments, perhaps the greatest is having a board, staff and host of recreation professionals who are totally dedicated to the mission of the Alliance. It is for this reason that the Alliance has reached the level it is at today.
Q: What has surprised you the most in the last 20 something years?
FE: When I founded the organization in 1981 I never dreamed we would be where we are today. It would have been very easy for people to turn down the idea of volunteers - as coaches, administrators and parents - being trained. After all, it hadn't been done in the previous 40 years since youth sports had been around. It just proves that the overwhelming majority of people really do care, and they want to see what is best for children in sports.
Q: How important are the Recommendations For Communities that we developed from the results of the National Summit on Raising Community Standards in Children's Sports, and what type of impact will it have on youth sports nationwide in the coming years?
FE: The Summit is exactly what children's sports is all about in this country. The hard work by all those who participated in the Summit produced the Recommendations For Communities that are the standards for communities to follow. I am convinced that if communities follow the Recommendations we will finally have an answer to all the problems of violence and abuse that we have seen escalate in recent years. We will swing the pendulum back toward children, where it should have been from day one.
Q: What direction do you see youth sports headed in the next decade?
FE: With the Recommendations For Communities being implemented, we will see communities taking a Time Out For Better Sports For Kids. We will see communities taking a tougher stand when issuing permits to parent groups using their facilities. Everyone will be required to understand what children's sports are all about, and they will be held accountable for their behavior. If they can't run programs with the best interest of children in mind, then they won't be given the facilities to run these programs. Think of how youth sports would be today if we would have had that attitude in the beginning.
Q: Looking back, is there one moment that stands out that told you that what you were doing was worthwhile, and that you knew you'd be able to make a significant impact in youth sports through NSYCA?
FE: It was my feeling in the beginning that if we could educate coaches we could change the atmosphere in children's sports. And I think a lot of recreation departments across America agreed. When we began to see recreation departments coming back year after year to conduct certification clinics I knew that what we were doing was having an impact. There are recreation departments today that have been involved since the beginning, and that says a lot.
Q: Why has the organization been so successful?
FE: The Alliance has been successful because people really care about the issue. The people I'm referring to are the dedicated recreation professionals in parks and recreation departments, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs and YWCAs, church recreation departments, and the many youth leagues who have implemented chapters of the Alliance programs to provide the education needed for volunteers.
Q: When people hear the National Alliance For Youth Sports or NYSCA mentioned, what do you hope pops into their mind regarding the organization?
FE: I would hope the first thing that pops in their mind is "my resource to add value to existing programs as well as a resource deal with the challenges in youth sports." As a national non-profit organization, it has been our mission for the past 20 plus years, and the next 20 years, to have every agency that offers, directly or indirectly, sports for children in their community to take advantage of all the excellent programs that have been developed so that we can get all people on the same page, with the bottom line that all children have a safe and positive experience in youth sports.
Q: What is the most important issue the Alliance will address in the coming years?
FE: The most important issue we will face will be teaming up with local leaders who have the courage to implement the policies needed to change the culture of children's sports. Leagues who use public facilities will not accept change in the name of education and accountability so easily, and leaders will buckle under the pressure. But I truly believe, in the end, that right will win out and we will see a great change in children's sports in America.