By: Kate Dilworth, Director, Marketing
National Alliance for Youth Sport
Over the years there have been numerous studies about youth sports: the benefits of them, which sports are most popular, which sports are growing, etc. One conclusion from these participation studies that always stands out is the dropout rate: about 70% of children quit playing sports by age 13.
Kids decide they want to stop playing for various reasons. It could be from a lack of playing time, pressure from coaches and parents, they feel they aren’t good at it or they are more interested in other activities. Most of the reasons boil down to one thing – that the child does not find the sport fun anymore.
The reality is that at some point most young athletes will tell their parents that they no longer want to play a sport. What should a parent do if this conversation happens in the middle of a program or season?
Many parents want to teach their child that you have to finish what you start. At the start of the season they make sure the child understands the commitment and that they will not allow them to quit.
This is completely understandable and 99% of the time I agree with this philosophy. But what if there is violent behavior or bullying occurring within the team? What if a parent or child feels they are threatened or the youth sports events are unsafe? There must be some situations that justify a parent allowing their child to quit a sport in the middle of a season because we know that it does happen.
While I have not been on the parenting side of this, I have been an athlete who wanted to quit more than a couple of times! When I was on a new softball team with some “mean girls” my parents made me stick with it. (Little did I know that when I entered middle school the following fall, it would be filled with “mean girls!”) I am thankful I wasn’t allowed to give up because I ended up becoming good friends with some of the girls, tolerating the others and playing on the team for several years.
Another instance was when I began playing on a new AAU basketball team. The coach seemed nice enough when my parents and I met him at registration but he turned in to a monster on the court – bullying and belittling players. He made me dread going to basketball practice, something I had always loved. It took about two weeks of begging, but my parents ultimately allowed me to quit that team before the season was over. So based on my personal experiences, I can understand different arguments on this subject.
Have you been in a situation before, as either a parent or an athlete, that involved wanting to quit mid-season? Share your experience in the comment section below.
National Alliance for Youth Sports, Inc
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West Palm Beach, Florida 33411
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