The character of sports is changing. With so much emphasis on sportsmanship, young athletes may miss the point of sports: Winning. Winning is everything and losing, well, it's embedded in the word "loser."
Many youth sports leagues around the country are making parents sign a code of ethics that insist that parents make only positive statements during games. Can you believe it?! These namby-pambies are asking that parents put the well being of their kids first and ahead of a desire to win. Real men sire children to bring home the glory on the field of battle; Otherwise why bother having kids?
If this movement is not uprooted, I can envision a day when a game would be seen as fun and not the gut-wrenching experience that it should be. Before you know it, players on opposing teams might like each other or even encourage each other: Ridiculous, I say. Under this thinking games could end up with winners acting gracious in their triumph and losers, respected, would walk of the field feeling good.
As parents, if you go along with this, know that you may eliminate an entire class of great athletes. Where will the next spoiled superstar come from? Under this sissified system prominent athletes will never have the chance to emerge, as they would be changed or eliminated from play under this utterly un-American idea. If anything, kids today need to be toughened up. Here are some suggestions that might help to get you kids' heads straight about winning, and remember: Winning is everything.
To teach the right attitude about soccer, if your kid is slacking, when they come to the sideline, tie their shoes together. When they complain just tell them, "You brought it on yourself." In baseball, if they are right handed, make them use their left to catch, throw and bat. When they complain tell them, "Listen, mister, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
In basketball, seize the opportunity to inoculate your kid against hecklers. Because you are in a closed space and everyone can hear you, yell at your kid every time they come on the floor. When they complain tell them, "This hurts me more than it does you. Do you think it is easy to yell non-stop for 45 minutes."
As a parent there is another way that you can help your child to have a satisfying sports experience: Lean on their coaches hard; give them the tough love. When the coach doesn't play your kid, complain to the coach that it is a personal issue against your family. When the coach explains that everyone needs a chance to play, tell the coach, "What are you a socialist or something?"
Don't leave referees or umpires out, they need to know that you care about your kid's sports career. In the middle of a game, it is sometimes hard to come up with good insults, so you may want to come to the game with some prepared insults written down.
As a parent if you only say supportive comments, don't criticize or embarrass your kid, the coaches' umpires or opposing team players, all your kid will learn is the importance of teamwork, the value imbedded in giving it your best, the gift of losing with pride and winning with grace. Remember all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org