Submit Article

pdf version print send to a friend add comment view comments

Sports Authority

Feb 10, 2009
Michael Hogan

Modern organized youth sports are organized by adults. This is in contrast to how it once was. There was a time when children and teenagers organized sports activities among themselves. Perhaps youth organization of sports activities continues in cities -- without Little Leagues or soccer moms.
Cities don?\'t require children to be chauffeured to and from sports activities. City kids must find nearby sports venues or find the initiative to travel on their own using bicycles or public transportation. 

After being chauffeured to the sports location, the suburban youngster reports to a coach who is the authority. The coach has the authority to unilaterally decide if youngsters will be on the team or in reserve, what position to play, etc. In short, adults are at the top of any suburban sports authority or hierarchy. 

If children and teenagers are chauffeured by adults to every sports event and led by adults when competing, when does the child learn INDEPENDENCE, INITIATIVE and LEADERSHIP? Are organized sports authorities arresting the development of children?
What would allow children to develop INDEPENDENCE, INITIATIVE and LEADERSHIP? Adult dominated sports authorities ought to end. This would include high school sports programs, as well as, town organized sports programs. In place of adult domination, children and teenagers would soon organize themselves. 

Rather then select times and places convenient to adults, children and teens would organize for their own convenience. Rather then a coach selecting his son to bat fourth, children and teens would select the best among them? This is how kids operate. Their desire to win causes them to select the best among them. 

Children and teens are authentic and expressive with their knowledge of who is best at what. When children and teens watch a coach select a player because his or her parents are pillars of the community rather then because that player is the best for that position- children and teens are being taught inauthentically. Of course, there are those who will say stepping on expressiveness is the process called socialization. 

How would children get to sports fields without adult intervention? Most towns are a few square miles and have several sports venues. The bicycle is ideal for such short distances. There is also walking as a way to get from here to there. 

How would youngsters know where to meet? Young folks with similar sports interests meet at school. They would plan to meet here or there. If others were using the sports venue, young folks could wait their turn or seek another venue. How would youngsters organize themselves without adult intervention? Those who are recognized as the best players would take the lead in a meritocracy. 

When youngsters organize sports activities they select players based on merit, rather then old ties or other social criteria. Is America to be a meritocracy or an autocracy? Did our forbears leave foreign lands to reiterate the class system of an old order? 

Yet, some of the finest most dedicated men I have ever met are coaches. Those I know make excellent role models. Some have four or more children, so coaching may be learned at home. 

It is not my wish to denigrate the fine men and women who are coaches. There is certainly a place for coaches as folks become older and play becomes professionalism. Perhaps coaching ought to begin when both the player and coach are adults over 18; this would include college sports, as well as some professional sports leagues for adults. Many parents retain the services of coaches to prepare their children to compete at a higher level in our meritocracy. This is as it should be. Decisions about a child\'s future ought to be in the hands of the child and parent, rather then a sports authority. 

Socialization, whatever that may be, can wait until the child/teen becomes an adult: it is far more important for the child to mimic the parent then the finest coach. Family patterning should be the foundation of the child/teen perspective, rather then the sports authority. Without the family patterning the child/teen, there is only the STATE in the form of a sports authority and school. 

Think of eliminating organized sports programs as a GIANT TRANQUILIZER ? a stress reduction program. Parents would no longer need to be chauffeurs or become stressed as they project themselves onto their children and seek to live through their children in search of lost youth. Fishing is a spontaneous sport without the stressful organization of a team. It\'s also relaxing. 

Organized team sports for children and teens place great pressure on the youngsters to perform as formal settings require. The youngster is being required by well intended coaches and parents to perform at a professional level. This sets both the child and parent up for disappointment, because it is the very few who were blessed with the genes to be great. 

Pressure and disappointment don\'t sound good, although there are those who may argue that stress, pressure and disappointment are necessary by products of a meritocracy. Here, again, I believe it to be a matter of who runs the meritocracy. In my view, children under 18 should run their own affairs on the playing field as well as in the school. In fact, it is my bet children run a superior meritocracy. 

Inducing stress and disappointment into the lives of children in their formative years seems counterproductive to whatever the goal one seeks to attain. It may arrest development. Perhaps the biggest failing of adult organized sports is the psychosocial projection of sexism by the sports authorities onto their programs. Please allow me to repeat that men who run sports programs are among the finest men I have known, yet many are blind to such sexism. 

Federal Law (Title 9) requires colleges to offer women the same opportunities to play sports as men have. However, Title 9 does not appear to apply to high school and municipal sports programs. Little League and organized soccer leagues are often limited to boys. Girls are encouraged to play softball and other sports. 

One doesn\'t need to be a psychologist to imagine the impact such overt gender selection may have on a young girls: CONFIDENCE, PRIDE, IDENTITY, ETC. Yet, such obvious gender discrimination/selection takes place every day in suburbia across America. Why can\'t the American meritocracy include girls?
Please remember girls go on to become mothers and grandmothers. You might say we are building tomorrows moms. Do you want moms who didn\'t get a square deal as kids nurturing the young? That is the current state of play in America. Girls are molded by moms who didn\'t get a square deal on the sports fields as kids, yet heroically stepped through the web of illusion to be undaunted as adults. 

The heroic nature of motherhood does not change the fact that girls need a better deal. Will patriarchal sports authorities ever give girls a square deal? This is not likely, as the chances of this happening are between zero and none. It may be said sports authorities enforce a rigid regiment of sexism. 

Informal, unorganized, unprofessional play is the only hope for an environment free of sexism, as well as, a milieux of meritocracy. Children organizing themselves is the only hope. How could mere boys keep a girl out of the game?
add comment view comments
Copyright 2005