Nader Claims There’s Too Much Adult Ego In Youth and High School Sports
Ralph Nader announced today that his sports reform project, League of Fans, is releasing a special report on the state of youth sports in the United States, including a six-part plan to make them more youth-centric. The report is part of the organization’s Sports Manifesto.
“In too many cases today, adults – driven by ego and greed – are warping the original intent of youth sports,” said Nader. “Children as young as nine and ten years-old are being forced to specialize in a single sport by coaches and parents with stars and/or dollar signs in their eyes. In the quest for that elusive athletic scholarship, Olympic team berth, or even a pro sports career, our children are being turned into mini-professionals who when not training with their competitive club team are being dragged to a personal trainer or some elite camp or tournament. The results too often aren’t pretty: emotional burnout, overuse injuries, and kids dropping out of sports by age 13 because the fun is gone.”
Ken Reed, League of Fans’ sports policy director and author of the League of Fan’s Sports Manifesto, said youth sports have been hijacked by adults who attempt to meet their own needs through youth sports. He said these parents and coaches usually have good intentions but the damage to our young people is real nonetheless.
“Sometimes parents want that athletic scholarship more than their child does,” said Reed. “They’d like to be able to say their kid got a full-ride athletic scholarship to State U. Others are trying to live out their athletic dreams through their children. It’s called achievement by proxy syndrome. For other parents, youth sports provide the centerpiece of their entertainment and social life. And then there are a growing number of profit-seeking adults in the youth sports field –club sports administrators, personal trainers and coaches, tournament and camp organizers, etc. – that are all too willing to make a buck off parents’ dreams of athletic glory for their children.”
Reed said many developments in our youth sports culture are scary, including the following:
Research shows that nearly 80 percent of all children who play adult-organized youth sports drop out by the time they’re 13. The reason most often cited is that it’s no longer fun.
In recent years, overuse injuries have quadrupled, and half of all pediatric sports injuries are linked to burnout. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that overuse injuries account for nearly half of all injuries sustained by middle school and high school athletes.
The number of incidents of physical violence and verbal abuse at youth sporting events has increased significantly the last five years. According to the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS), approximately 15% of youth sports games played today involve a confrontation between parents, between parents and officials, between parents and coaches, or between coaches and officials. That figure was 5% just a few years ago.
“There are a number of examples of communities and youth sports organizations that are getting youth sports right,” said Reed. “However, there are way too many cases of overbearing parents and drill sergeant-like coaches who ruin the youth sports experience for young people. Too many adults in positions of power and influence in the area of youth sports are driven by win-at-all-costs (WAAC) and/or profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) mentalities. We need to flip the entire youth sports culture around and put the needs of kids first. The starting point needs to be the question, ‘What’s best for the kid?’”
The League of Fans six-part plan for overhauling youth sports includes implementing a national youth sports coaching education program, enforcing the intent of the Ted Stevens Sports Act – increasing sports participation across all levels, requiring schools to prioritize physical education and intramural sports programs over varsity athletics, and developing a campaign to discourage early specialization in a single sport.
The full report, “It’s Time to Take Adult Egos Out of Youth Sports,” is available at the League of Fans website.
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Terri Lakowski
29 Apr 2014
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Jim Baugh
16 Jan 2014
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Brian Kitts
12 Nov 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Paul Busch
9 Oct 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Chuck Wilson
17 Sep 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Tom McMillen
5 Aug 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Sab Singh
13 Jun 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Joseph Siprut
11 Apr 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Fred Bowen
20 Feb 2013
Q & A with Legendary Sportswriter Frank Deford
27 Jan 2013
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Brenda VanLengen
28 Dec 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Diana Cutaia
1 Nov 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Patrick Hruby
28 Sep 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Allen Sack
8 Aug 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Donna Lopiano
5 Jun 2012
Q’s & A’s with Jim Thompson
14 May 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Activists: Dave Zirin
18 Apr 2012
Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Activists: William Dowling
27 Mar 2012
Q’s & A’s with Notable Sports Figures: Taylor Branch
9 Mar 2012
Q’s & A’s with Notable Sports Figures – Joe Nocera
27 Feb 2012
- Q’s & A’s with Leading Sports Reformers: Terri Lakowski
Special FeaturesFrom League of Fans
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to encourage social & civic responsibility in sports industry & culture. See League of Fans Core Principles
Petition from Baseball Fans Everywhere To Mariano Rivera
April 6, 2013League of Fans Calls for More Humanistic Coaching Programs. Click here to see the release.
League of Fans Announces 2012 “Sport At Its Best” Awards
December 20, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on Ralph Nader's Call for Budding Sports Reformers
December 7, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on Ralph Nader's Claim that Sports Media Are Dropping the Ball on Social, Cultural, and Economic Issues in Sports
November 22, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to Make the NCAA Live Up to Its Stated Purpose
October 26, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to create a National Sports Commission
October 11, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to Ensure Equal Opportunity in Sports for all Americans
September 21, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on putting the "Youth" back into "Youth Sports"
September 8, 2011 Click here to read the news release and report on the campaign to abolish the BCS and Establish a College Football Playoff
August 25, 2011
Read the news release and report on Mandatory Implementation of King-Devick Concussion Test in High School and Youth Sports
August 11, 2011
Click here to read the report and news release and about the campaign to promote sports and physical education for all students
Read the news release and report on Campaign to Promote Humanistic Coaching Education Programs
July 13, 2011
Read the news release and report on the Push For Community Ownership in Professional Sports
June 24, 2011
Read the news release and report and Sports Manifesto on Re-Launch of League of Fans
March 24, 2011
NCAA's Reaction to League of Fans' Proposal
March 29, 2011
League of Fans' Response to NCAA
March 25, 2011
League of Fans Proposes Eliminating Athletic Scholarships to Help Restore Integrity on College Campuses
League of Fans is a project of the Center for Study of Responsive Law.