Why Your Kids Should NOT Play Youth Sports

With somewhere between 10-15 million youth playing organized sports (this does not include high school), it seems like something you just do with your kids. They stay active, build friendships, learn, etc. I agree, there can be a boat load of positive reasons why your kids should participate in youth sports.

Here are some reasons why they should not.

1. You do not want your children to experience actual defeat and failure. This isn’t meant to enter into the “trophy for participation debate” (you can read a good perspective on that here). Nonetheless, related is the idea that some parents are a bit too protective. This stems from good intentions no doubt, but the end result can be damaging to the young people, especially as they age. Helping our children experience failure and defeat as something that should never derail them is an immensely valuable lesson. We will always fall somewhere in our life, and probably frequently. Helping them see this as an opportunity and not something to be feared has great value. If you can’t do this, you may want to rethink allowing your kids to participate in youth sports.

2. You will not be able to commit to Sunday Mass or their faith formation (e.g. Confirmation classes) if they have games or practices. I have seen a number of college athletes looking to get confirmed because their time in high school put sports over faith, and their parents let them or even encouraged them. I am a believer in the value and formation sports can create, and even unique opportunities for some. As exciting as that can be, it should never trump getting to Mass on Sundays and forming our children to receive the grace given in the Sacraments – where we encounter Jesus Christ every time. If you are not able to keep holy the Sabbath and put God first, especially on Sundays, you may want to rethink allowing your kids to participate in youth sports. Being faithful to our Lord and understanding our need for Him and the value of Sunday is much more important than a game. You can read about some fun reasons why Mass is so important here.

3. You care more about the “success” of your child’s performance than he/she does. We all have seen the parent on the sideline taking a much too active role in “coaching” or “encouraging” his/her child. Yep, the one yelling all game. Encouragement and instruction are important, but when they take pride of place in our interaction with our children, we are out of whack. This will have negative consequences on your relationship with your kids and also push a diminished understanding of their own identity and worth. If you can’t control yourself in this regard, you may want to rethink allowing your kids to participate in youth sports.

4. You do not see value in the formative potential of sports. One of the greatest benefits sport can and should bring to our culture is in terms of its formative prowess. As Coach Phillips pointed out in his article, Sport and Play: Let us not confuse the two, sport should be directed to the formation of virtue for those who participate in it. We shouldn’t diminish sport to an extended-day-care on one end or a win-at-all-costs on the other. As parents, it is imperative that we see sport as a powerful piece of the formation of our children in virtue. If you can not get behind this vision of sport, you may want to rethink allowing your kids to participate in youth sports.

In the end, we are the ones responsible for teaching and forming our children. When it comes to sports, we need to be the ones to lead them by helping them understand, even at an early age, the right vision of sports and how to navigate the tremendous lessons it will provide. If we aren’t able to lead our children well in this regard, we need to evaluate their involvement in sport. Of course my suggestion to rethink allowing them to participate is purposely a bit dramatic to make a point. I do believe we need to rethink how we set the tone for our children in terms of sport.

(One example referenced above is identity: many young athletes develop their identity around sport, which can be very harmful. Our duty as parents is to help them shape their identity as sons/daughters of God.)

If you need help understanding the vision for sport, peruse the other blog posts on this sight. If you need help forming your young athletes, consider picking up a copy of Compete Inside, or some other resource. All in all, if we take this a bit more seriously (while having a ton of fun doing it), our children will be much more equipped as they enter into adulthood. Would you agree?

What are your biggest fears connected to youth sports?

By the way, here are some reasons why kids SHOULD play.

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    There are 18 comments so far

    • Bryan Metcalf
      3 years ago · Reply

      Thank you, Thomas! It’s so important that parents and coaches ask ourselves the questions about our own motivations.

      • Thomas Author
        3 years ago · Reply

        Thanks Bryan. I appreciate you doing what you do in sports!

    • Michael Miller
      1 year ago · Reply

      How about I was never interested? I am still not interested. Some of us read, sing, create art. Some us grow up and don’t even own television sets.

      • Thomas Author
        1 year ago · Reply

        Thanks Michael. If a child doesn’t want to play sports, that is another good reason why perhaps they shouldn’t.

    • Bob
      11 months ago · Reply

      Everyone should play sport just for fun. It’s how you make friends isn’t it?

      • 6 months ago · Reply

        i think all kids should be out in sports their for you are WRONG micheal, this is how u make friends i would definitly reccomend sports for my kids

    • Dotcom
      5 months ago · Reply

      I find it to be a big time-eater. Too many of the people who are really into it with their kids are hoping their child becomes the next sports star. You may as well just buy lottery tickets every week. It’s cheaper and more likely you’ll “hit big” that dumping all those expectations on your child. The parents who are doing it to give their kids more experiences are often stressed and tired out of their ever-loving minds. 2 nights a week and a weekend day every week is very taxing on a family. It’s a nice thing to maybe *try* but feeling like you have to have your child in sports all the time is crazy. It’s a much better idea to do things as a family. Take your kid on a hike, train for a 5K with her, or go swimming together. These are what will build healthy habits for adulthood. Sports only really lasts until middle school and then children either lose interest or the teams become too competitive trying to push out the next NFL star or Olympian. Your child is much more likely to be a healthy active adult if they don’t feel like they *have* to do things just to kill time.

    • 3 months ago · Reply

      Me too. Sports are good. We learn good sportsmanship.

    • Ryan
      3 months ago · Reply

      That is honestly the dumbest article I personally read. You learn coping skills and how everything doesn’t go your way. How to expect a kid to grow up and never experience what it is like to actually loose. Sorry the world doesn’t spin for your child. Your child will loose

      • Thomas Author
        3 months ago · Reply

        Ryan, thanks for the comment. Not sure which article you are referring to. As you might recall, in this post, your point is my first point. Blessings.

        • 2 months ago · Reply

          yea sports are amazing why take kids out of them that would just leave the kids fat and chubby you don’t want a kid like that

    • Brooke
      2 months ago · Reply

      I must respectfully disagree. Children are sure to experience “failure” at other times in their lives and I believe sports gives them a great basis for how to handle that. Personally as a college athlete I can say that my faith has grown through my sport and ability to compete for Christ’s glory. It has given me a great opportunity to influence others in a positive way that I could have never had without athletics.

      • Thomas Author
        2 months ago · Reply

        Thanks Brooke. I agree with everything you said. What exactly in the post are you disagreeing with?

    • ANYA L
      1 month ago · Reply

      I disagree with the first one the most. Kids are going to experience failure in their life, and shielding them from that is silly.

      • Thomas Author
        1 month ago · Reply

        Anya, I completely agree. That is actually the point I make. If a parent doesn’t want their kids to experience failure, they shouldn’t have their kids play sports. Re-read the first point, I think you will be all for it.

    • 3 weeks ago · Reply

      Great points. One other point I’d like to add is that these young sports can really teach children how to be even more selfish. I’ve seen young kids miss family celebrations (birthdays, weddings, etc) all because they had practice or a game. Parents teach “Love YOUR sport”. Jesus teaches to “Love your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind……and love your neighbor “. Sports are pushed sooo much more than God and sharing love to others. It saddens me.

    • sharkeysha jhons
      3 weeks ago · Reply

      this is bad kids should be able to experience new things such as sports and should experience failure because if they dont they are going to think they are perfect when nobody is and that is what sports teaches children!!!!!!

      • Thomas Author
        2 weeks ago · Reply

        Thanks for the comment. I agree completely. That is one of the points I make in the post.

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