By Dr. Jon Coles
Let’s change the question.
Research shows that the majority of parents and kids agree: winning is not one of the top reasons why kids participate in sports.
The majority of kids and parents also agree that youth sports are too competitive.
So why, when we see 6- to 10-year-old sport participants in their Saturday uniforms do we ask “did you win?” Is it really important to know if a kid who still believes in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy won?
Data shows that young sport participants are quitting at an alarming rate because it’s simply too competitive, but yet it’s common for waiters, waitresses, strangers, friends, and family members to ask the question.
Instead of asking “did you win?” let’s ask what’s important: “What did you learn?” Or “did you have fun?”
Let’s remember why kids play sports: to be with friends, to be part of a team, to have fun!
Let’s also remember that it’s the pursuit of winning that teaches life skills. The determination, teamwork, preparation, discipline, dedication, etc., that kids learn throughout the youth sport experience are the skills we want to equip them with for the real world.
Let’s keep things in perspective and ask kids what really matters.
Did you have fun?
What did you learn?
Dr. Jon Coles is an assistant professor of Sport Management at Grand Valley State University in Michigan researching parental involvement in youth sport.Parenting
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