23 Bad Things About Sports

(The Encyclopedia of Sports Parenting “List” Series)

The Encyclopedia of Sports Parenting, winner of the ForeWord Book Award and the Independent Publishers Book Award, contains over 100 lists. Many of the lists are attached to bulletin boards and locker rooms throughout the United States and abroad.

Over the last few weeks I have begun to share these lists on Medium: The 21 Non-Negotiable Responsibilities of a Good Captain; 36 Good Things About Sports. Today’s list continues what will be bi-weekly Medium postings.

23 Bad Things About Sports

  • Sports can encourage a child to focus so intently on becoming a star that the child neglects other essential areas of life.
  • Sports offer the most common avenue to adolescent acclaim, a fleeting journey that will end soon — and often abruptly.
  • Sports can cause a child to fall into a pattern of rationalizing unacceptable behavior. A good example is the athlete who becomes so competitive that he/she will do anything to win, convincing himself/herself that the ends justify the means.
  • A few sports foster a culture of violence. Such a misguided culture too often spills over into barbaric acts in and out of competition, and also produces a copycat reaction among some impressionable young athletes.
  • Sports can produce an unhealthy level of stress in a child, particularly a child who is pushed to excel and who feels a failure with every loss.
  • Sports can produce irrational, boorish behavior among parents and athletes.
  • Sports can produce many athletes who are negative role models.
  • Sports can produce many coaches who are negative role models.
  • Sports can produce many parents who are negative role models, especially those who overvalue athletic achievement.
  • Sports, even team sports, can promote selfish behavior.
  • Dreams of sports glory can induce some parents to completely lose perspective of the really important things in their child’s life, especially that the athlete is a child.
  • Sports can chip away at a child’s self-esteem. A child who falls short of athletic goals or who perceives that one is valued only for athletic ability may lack a sense of value and self-worth off the field.
  • The desire to win can lead some young athletes to turn to harmful, illegal substances.
  • Sports can be so time-consuming that it leaves some athletes with little time for studies or social life.
  • Sports can be a distraction from serious academic pursuit. At the highest level of intercollegiate competition, colleges are producing magnificent athletes who, in many cases, are ill-equipped to engage in any meaningful life’s work.
  • From blaming referees for poor calls to listening to those who say, “you are being treated unfairly,” sports can be a haven for excuses.
  • Sports can allow many who are physically gifted to behave like arrogant bullies.
  • Sports can allow many who are physically gifted to underestimate the real meaning of hard work.
  • The link between sports stardom and arrested development is far too common.
  • The “trample the opponent” philosophy espoused by some coaches and parents sends the wrong message about the core value of empathy.
  • When sports are more important to the parent than the child, it can create distance and resentment, particularly when a child’s performance does not live up to parental hopes and expectations.
  • Burnout or injuries from sports can lead to neglect of physical fitness.
  • Finally, sports can teach a child that it is acceptable to cheat or take short cuts to win, especially if coaches and parents turn a blind eye toward such practices. Gamesmanship tactics such as flopping in basketball, when a defensive player fakes an offensive foul by falling to the floor, are frequently encouraged by coaches and parents, and employed by young athletes. Acceptance of these tactics fosters a belief that such behaviors are not only acceptable but admirable; to win at any cost is okay.

My next posting will be The Four Categories Of Impact From The Sports Experience, in which I clarify the impact of sports participation.

The Encyclopedia of Sports Parenting Reception

Mark Murphy, President of the Green Bay Packers, called the book “brilliant.”
Tom Condon of the Hartford Courant wrote, “More wisdom about parenting and not just sports parenting, I have ever seen in one place.” Jim Thompson, Founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, wrote, “Parents, read this book — your child will thank you.”
Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming, wrote, “Awesome. USA Swimming completely supports this extraordinary book.”
Famed sports poet, Jack Ridl wrote, “Extraordinary … stunningly thorough.” The book was featured in many articles, including the Boston Globe as well as on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” other ESPN programs, Fox News, Court TV and NBC.

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Visit the Skyhorse Publishing website or Amazon to order books.

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