Youth, sports, and life


It is hard for me to become enamored with sports where the only scoring is penalty kicks or multiple overtimes. But watching what I have of the World Cup has been an education. A lot of people want to guide kids who might play American football into soccer, but the World Cup shows that the image of “safe sport” is an illusion. Not many kids who play American football end their season with cracked vertebrae like the leading scorer for Brazil. I’m sure our football beats the brain up worse than soccer, but the excessive use of the head for ball movement in soccer can’t be particularly good for the brain either.

Made me wonder what the hierarchy is of child sports when it comes to serious injury. I start by believing there are few injury-free sports. But it has to be that frequency and severity of injury is also not equal across the board. Also, premise 2 is that sports teach a lot of valuable lessons while fending off sedentary lifestyle diseases. The trick is to get the values without lifelong disabilities.

I know certain communities put a lot of value on the tradition of winning by their teams. Duluth and Edina in hockey. Eden Prairie in football. Hopkins in basketball. But do the fans lose sight of benefits to the kids in their desperation to maintain their winning tradition? That could lead to things like bad coaching philosophies that teach impressionable kids bad values, bad sportsmanship.

Anyway, I think sports related foundations should rip the cover off the world of kid sports and given parents good information when they have a kid come around expressing interest in sports. All professional sports have role models who can guide kids in the development of healthy goals and values. The Colombian who ended Neymar’s season is an example of a role model not to follow.