Mike Barton, a sophomore at Fairfield Prep, researched the reasons youth participate in sports. Barton has polled about 255 members of the Darien (CT) Junior Football League, who range from fourth grade to eighth grade, and 470 boys and girls in the same grades from the Darien Y.M.C.A. basketball league. The survey consisted of a single page listing 11 reasons children might have for playing sports, including the laid-back (to have fun, to make friends) and the purposeful (to win, to earn a college scholarship).
The result showed the most important reason for youth to play sports was the same: to have fun. Furthermore, in the basketball survey, 95 percent of boys and 98 percent of girls cited fun as a reason for playing, nearly twice the number who mentioned winning.
Ultimately, this research shows that kids are out there to get away from their lives and have a good time with their friends; they’re not out there just to win.
Which makes us wonder, ‘what if all the money we spend on extra ‘development camps’, travel tourneys, and similar efforts to bring 10 year olds along as elite players were spent providing their coaches with extra education on child development, life skills through sport training and maybe a few sessions for all adults on what kids need & want from sport? What if, indeed.