Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies. Chapter 5 Sports and Children: Are Organized Programs Worth the Effort?. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ_wBAQSJdM.
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Sports in Society:Issues and Controversies Chapter 5 Sports and Children: Are Organized Programs Worth the Effort?
Organized youth sports became popular when people realized that childhood development was influenced by the social environment and the experiences of children.
Origins of organized youth sports • Organized youth sports emerged in the 20th century. • The first programs focused on making boys into men—“masculinizing” them. • Organized youth sports grew rapidly in many industrialized countries after World War II. • Programs in the U.S. emphasized competition as preparation for future career success. • Girls’ interests generally were ignored.
The parents of baby boomer boys in the 1950s wanted their sons to learn about life through sports.
Changing ideas about families in the late 20th century Cultural expectations related to family life, childhood, and parenting have changed over the past four decades in neoliberal societies. Neoliberal society = one in which individualism and material success are highly valued, and one in which there is a decline in publicly funded programs and services.
Social changes related to the growth of organized youth sports • Increase in families with both parents working outside the home • New definitions of what it means to be a “good parent” (control your children, 24/7) • Growing belief that informal activities provide occasions for kids to get into trouble • Growing belief that the world is a dangerous place for children • Increased visibility of high-performance and professional sports in society
“Good parents” seek programs that use symbols of progressive achievement and skill development. These symbols constitute proof of their “moral worth.”
The success of children today is attributed to parents—as are the failures of children. This leads to many forms of excess in nurturing a child’s sport dreams.
Major trends in youth sports today • Organized programs have become increasingly privatized • Organized programs increasingly emphasize the “performance ethic” • An increase in private, elite training facilities • Increased parental involvement and concern • Increased participation in “alternative” and action sports • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tf0cBIO87s
Youth sports:types of sponsors • Public, tax-supported community recreation programs • Public, nonprofit community organizations • Private, nonprofit sport organizations • Private commercial clubs The goals and purpose of youth sports vary depending on the type of sponsorship that exists.
Privatization of youth sports • Occurs when public programs are cut • Most common in middle- and upper-income areas • May reproduce economic and ethnic inequalities and segregation in society • Privatized programs are not accountable in the same way as public programs are • May not be committed to gender equity
The cost of participating in club-based youth sports make it impossible for many children to participate.
The “performance ethic” . . . a set ideas and beliefs emphasizing that the quality of the sport experience can be measured in terms of improved skills, especially in relation to the skills of others. • Fun = becoming better • Exists widely in private programs • Related to parental notions of “investing in their children’s future”
Elite sport training programs • Private, expensive, high-performance programs • Emphasize that children can gain important rewards through sports • Children often “work” long hours and become like “laborers,” but programs are not governed by child labor laws • Some programs raise ethical issues about adult-child relationships
Increased parental involvement and concern • In U.S. culture today, children are seen as “products” of parenting and the “creations” of parents • A child’s success in visible and valued activities reaffirms parental moral worth in a neoliberal society • Parents now take youth sports very seriously, and they assertively advocate the interests of their children, even if they must be extreme.
For many reasons, children today often see action sports as preferable to adult-controlled organized youth sports.
New interests in alternative sports • A response to highly structured, adult-controlled organized programs • Revolve around desires to be expressive and spontaneous—and free of adult control • May have high injury rates and patterns of exclusion related to gender and social class • Are rapidly being appropriated by large corporations for advertising purposes
Developmental issues and children’s sports The culture of youth sports has changed dramatically over the past two generations • Informal sports, such as pick-up games, have declined to the point of near extinction • Nearly all sport experiences for children now occur in organized, adult-controlled programs • Research on the implications of this change is rare • Parents now object to people studying their children • Research Ethics Review Committees seldom approve of fieldwork and observational studies of children
Adult-controlled sports Relationships with authority figures Learning formal rules and strategies Systematic guidance by parents and coaches Rule-governed teamwork and obedience to coaches required Winning and personal achievement is important Player-controlled sports Action and personal involvement Interpersonal and decision-making skills Cooperation and improvisation are required Challenges, problem solving, and individual expression Reaffirmation of friendships is important Different experiences: Adult-controlled versus player-controlled sports
Organized youth sports involve formal rules and strategies developed by adults.
Sport and child development experts agree that • Children under 8 years old are not ready to play complex team games • Games can be increasingly organized for 8–14-year olds, but positional play should not be emphasized • No travel teams, no more than one game a week, and no more than 35 games per year in a single sport • Excellence is not developed among children who don’t claim personal ownership of their sport participation • Involvement in informal games and sports is crucial for the development of excellence over the long run • Character Development - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV-WqlorsBM
When are children ready to play organized, competitive sports? • Prior to age 12, many children don’t have the ability to fully understand competitive team sports • They play “beehive soccer” • Team sports require the use of a “third-party perspective” • Until you can see the world through the eyes of others, you can’t fully understand a competitive, team sport • Learning the dynamics of cooperation is a prerequisite for fully understanding competitive relationships • Children who don’t learn these dynamics won’t understand issues of ethics in sports and may become difficult to coach
Until children learn about the dynamics of cooperation, they cannot understand the team dynamics of competitive sports.
Eleven-year-olds on competitive club teams play too many games and don’t have enough opportunities to improvise on the field and develop a playing style and skills that make them unique.
Report card for U.S. youth sports Experts created a Youth Sports National Report Card and gave these grades: 1. Child-Centered Philosophy: D 2. Coaching: C 3. Health and Safety: C+ 4. Officiating: B– 5. Parental Behavior/Involvement: D
Summary statements by the report card panel: Youth sports today have • Lost their child-centered focus • Been distorted by overinvested parents • Failed to train and evaluate coaches • Mistakenly emphasized early sports specialization • Ignored the developmental abilities of children
Disability and the realities of mainstream youth sports • The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requires that all youth sport programs open to the public cannot exclude children unless • There are threats to the health and safety of able-bodied participants • Necessary accommodations would fundamentally alter or cause “undue burden” to a program. • This is fine, but most organized youth sports today are not organized to make children with (dis)abilities feel welcome or valued
Few communities have adapted youth sport programs. This keeps children, even with mild (dis)abilities, on the sidelines.
Family dynamics issues • Youth sports and youth sport participation require family resources and the volunteer labor of parents. • A prevailing belief in neoliberal U.S. is that parents are morally obliged to nurture the sport dreams of their children, regardless of cost and sacrifice. • Parent labor in youth sports often reproduces gendered ideas about work and family.
Recommendations for changing organized sports • Increase action and personal involvement • Facilitate exciting challenges • Encourage forms of personal expression • Facilitate friendship formation and reaffirmation
Recommendations for changing high-performance programs • Establish policies, procedures, and rules to account for the rights and interests of children participants (child labor laws?) • Create less controlling environments designed to promote growth, development, and empowerment
Obstacles to change • Too many adults who control youth sports give priority to control, organization, and the performance ethic and ignore age-based developmental concerns • Coaching education programs that don’t deal with social and developmental issues
Coaching education programs • Are useful when they teach coaches how to • Deal with children safely and responsibly • Organize practices and teach skills • Are a problem if they foster a “techno-science” approach to controlling children • Creating coaches who are “sports efficiency experts” often does not contribute to overall child development