So my own father called me out looking in a little league game when I was 7 – not swinging, looking – so when I tell you I think we introduce losing and actual consequences far too late in youth sports I’m speaking as someone who had to skulk back to that dugout, not get a fourth strike, or a fifth, or a “let’s just let him go to first base” directive. The disconnect for me is we don’t blow the whistle much in youth sports like basketball, but we do flash the 32 to 13 score at halftime. The logic is absurd: calling the travel or double dribble to teach the kid the right way to play would be “way harsh,” but promoting how much the Zebras have taken the Bears to the woodshed in this 8-year-old game, well now, that’s important information the parents and kids must have.
There has to be a winner and a loser, right? Not exactly. Not in these games anyway. Not when the layup was preceded by little Johnny running up the court with a single dribble. There’s the kid who is not traveling or double dribbling but whose team loses by 6 (says the scoreboard), and who doesn’t understand why no one blew the whistle when the other kids traveled. Then there’s her parent on the car ride home who doesn’t know how to explain why that is. That kid is made fun of at school because her team “lost.” Bullying ensues, cliques form, anger develops….
- Typically found in adults with kids in youth sports
- Easily diagnosed from the bleachers
- Found in dads most often who have a whistle in their mouth, but don’t blow it
- Generally caused by not wanting to make a kid cry
- Moderate condition occurs in youth basketball when the adult lets the kids run around with the ball without dribbling
- The condition has worsened to intervention stage when the players turn to the parent to “make a call” and parent simply shrugs