By Dev K. Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc
As I write this on September 11, many Americans face the day with a reflective posture. So this post is a departure of sorts from our focus on youth sports fitness, training, and injury management. If that’s what you’re looking for you can stop reading now. Otherwise I’d ask each of you who are involved in some way with youth sports to take some time today to remember what’s great about keeping young people involved in sports.
Let’s start with the Little League World Series. I hope you had a chance to tune in to some of the broadcasts. The quality of play from these 12 and 13-year-old boys was phenomenal, especially given the pressure of a national audience. How many of you could play in front of 30,000 in-stadium spectators, and do so with amazing sportsmanship as well as skill? Could you be a youth coach with a mic on you for everyone to hear?
It’s so easy to dwell on the “Jerry Springer” and “Jersey Shore” moments of youth sports: the whacked-out parents fighting on the sidelines or the coach screaming expletives at children. Extreme behavior always grabs the attention of the mainstream media.
But there are probably more than 30 million kids who play sports at some level in the United States and for each of them there are hundreds of thousands of games with millions of parents and friends supporting the young athletes appropriately. Most coaches and league administrators are unpaid volunteers who are doing what they do because they truly love being involved, and teach the kids life lessons and sports skills, along with a healthy respect for competition while honoring the game.
There’s a nice program going on now by Liberty Mutual Insurance looking for “Responsible Sports Moments”- identifying “amazing youth sports acts that need to be shared, celebrated, and awarded”. This is a great way to place the spotlight on positive acts in youth sports. You can read about the program here.
Let’s take some time to dwell on the positives, especially since the positives frequently don’t make the headlines. At De La Salle High School in Concord, California, (home of the nation’s longest high school football winning streak) I saw a coach this week show up for practice in dress clothing after leaving his office early for his volunteer coaching position- in 104 degree heat. At the high school my kids attend our booster club provides food for the opposing team and coaches after every football game from the freshmen through the varsity contests. I’m sure your communities have plenty of similar stories that happen week in and week out, quietly. I hope we can all remember what’s great about youth sports even if the headlines suggest otherwise.