Guest Post by Brie Isaacson
I have been involved with the game of volleyball for the past 20 years on several different levels. I have been a player, coach, club director and parent to a child who is actively involved in club volleyball. Over this time I have noticed a definite change in athletes. As a mom with four kids in many different sports (baseball, soccer, dance and gymnastics), I have noticed a similar change there as well.
It seems as though we have turned athletics into something more than they actually are. Kids are quitting because of team placement, playing time, winning vs. losing, commitment issues and coaching. I have to question what lesson quitting actually teaches anyone. Once someone quits for the first time, it seems to make it easier to repeat in the future. Perfection on any team, or in life for that matter, simply does not exist. I believe that athletics teach great lessons whether things turn out exactly as we had hoped or not. While success is a wonderful teaching tool, so is failure.
Athletics present a unique ability to be a part of the development of our young people. Athletics played during our youth shouldn’t define us but help shape us into better people. So many life lessons are taught along the way. Through successes and struggles, growth happens as both an athlete and as a person. The purpose of youth sports should be to teach fundamentals, respect, competitiveness, communication, responsibility, sportsmanship and passion for the game. (Winning is a byproduct of this.)
In addition, experiences in athletics help create individual characteristics that expand beyond the athletic arena. There seems to be a common trend among companies when hiring new employees, as I’ve heard time and time again how job applicants with athletics on their resume have an edge. Employers know that people who have already been part of a “team” make good co-workers. There is a belief that former athletes have good time management and discipline skills, things that make a quality employee.
With so many challenges that our young people now face, it is so important to support them through their athletic journey and encourage them through good and bad times. How we as parents react to certain situations is the exact way our children will. It’s no different than quickly smiling when a toddler falls to prevent them from crying. I think that if we can embrace all that athletics teach our children, the outcome will be a more positive experience for all parties involved, as well as help our children prepare for challenges in the future.