By Dr. William Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist
Recently on a warm clear evening, my wife and I rode by a community athletic facility with hundreds of young people playing ball. Our memories immediately returned to the days when our children played for community volunteers who dedicated countless hours. Is there a potential downside to engaging little ones too early in school or community sports?
Having played baseball in college, I can remember, when our oldest son played little league, trying my hand at coaching. On the day of the tryouts, the father next to me would occasionally write on his scouting report GLM. Not recalling that acronym in baseball, I asked, "What in the world is GLM?" He whispered, "Good Looking Mama!"
And so, I learned my first of many lessons about sports and children. Perhaps there are some cautions for us:
1) Remember that volunteerism should be altruistic. Our focus always needs to be on the children.
2) Do not permit young people to be vicarious experiences for adults. We must avoid having them play out things that we have never done and will never do.
3) Avoid sports with greater potential for injury. Recent research indicates that the most accident-prone sport is basketball.
4) Don't forget that school is critical, not a convenience. When I see children playing under the lights, I wonder when they have time for homework....or rest.
5) Remember that unorganized play sparks creativity. Children don't have enough to simply play.
6) Motivate, but more importantly educate: proper instruction is fundamental
7) Teach the relationships between results, recognition, and rewards. In an age of "equal thinking" we forget to praise those who have done well.
Now as a grandparent, there is nothing more enjoyable than watching those little ones running, jumping, throwing, kicking the ball, swinging, sliding, laughing and especially having fun....oh, in youth sports, let's not forget the laughing and having fun part.