This discussion addresses Module Outcome 1. As your reading and video content illustrate, particularly the Aspen Institute study and the Steven Locker Ted Talk, organized youth sport is often an arena of intense pressure that prompts many young people to become demoralized by and even quit sports at an early age. Your first discussion for module seven will ask you to analyze the reasons why children might leave youth sports and why adults need to make changes to the youth sporting environment. You will then be asked to explore your own experiences with youth sports and offer possible solutions for fixing youth sports.Please be sure to have the appropriate reading and video content completed before beginning the activity.Before participating in this discussion, make sure you have completed all video and reading content for the module. Using and citing as many of the module readings, videos, and other module learning materials as possible, please respond to the following questions:• Explain the reasons why children quit a particular team or individual sports activity, or even leave sports altogether.• Given what you have explored above, how might the youth sport experience have been altered so that kids would feel more involved with the sport and less likely to leave it? For example, could the coaching and/or pressurized game environment have been altered, or the role of parents and coaches been redrawn to increase participation, even the joy of the activity?• How have your own experiences as a youthful player, parent, coach, and/or observer of youth sports affected your analysis of the above questions?• How do you believe youth sports might be best preserved to the benefit of participants, non-participants and the broader society?704606an hour agoRequiredModule notes: Sport and Youth CultureAspen Institute. (2015, February 25). https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/7-charts-that-show-the-state-of-youth-sports-in-the-us-and-why-it-matters/(Links to an external site.). Aspen Institute.Gerdy, J. R. (2002). Sports: The All-American Addiction(Links to an external site.). Jackson,MS: University Press of Mississippi, pp. 9-20.Hyman, M. (2009). Until it hurts: America’s obsession with youth sports and how it harms our kids.(Links to an external site.)Boston, MA, USA: Beacon Press, (chapters 5 and 9), pp. 62-78(Links to an external site.), 125-139.(Links to an external site.)Karen, D. (2015). Playing to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture/It’s All for the Kids: Gender, Families, and Youth Sports.(Links to an external site.)International Review of Modern Sociology, 41(1), 123-127.Pennington, Bill. (2016, July 22). Sports Reporter Cries Foul When Own Son’s Youth League Is Bilked(Links to an external site.). New York Times.Pennington, Bill. (2016, July 7). The Trusted Grown-Ups Who Steal Millions From Youth Sports.(Links to an external site.)New York Times.Popper, N. (2014, January 27). Committing To Play For College, Then Starting The Ninth Grade.(Links to an external site.)New York Times. p.A1.Sullivan, P. (2015, January 17). The Rising Costs of Youth Sports, in Money and Emotion.(Links to an external site.)New York Times. p. B4.Wallace, K. (2016, January 21). How to Make Your Kid Hate Sports Without Really Trying(Links to an external site.). CNN Report.Wilson, B. (2002). The “Anti-Jock” Movement: Reconsidering Youth Resistance, Masculinity, and Sport Culture in the Age of the Internet.(Links to an external site.)Sociology of Sport Journal, 19(2), 206-209 (210-233 optional).704606an hour agoOptionalDiamond, A. B., Callahan, S. T., Chain, K. F., & Solomon, G. S. (2016). Qualitative review of hazing in collegiate and school sports: consequences from a lack of culture, knowledge and responsiveness(Links to an external site.). British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(3), 149-153.Graham, J. A., Dixon, M. A., & Hazen-Swann, N. (2016). Coaching Dads: Understanding Managerial Implications of Fathering Through Sport.(Links to an external site.)Journal of Sport Management, 30(1), 40-51.Grasmuck, S., and Goldwater, J. (2005). Protecting home: Class, race, and masculinity in boys’ baseball(Links to an external site.). New Brunswick,NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 1-44.Matz, E. (2014, February 21). The kids are alright(Links to an external site.). ESPN News.Messner, M. A., & Musto, M. (2014). Where are the kids?(Links to an external site.)Sociology of Sport Journal, 31(1), 102-122.Peters, R.J. et al. (2012). Low Sports Fundamental Development among Urban Youth: Beliefs and Social Norms Concerning the Culture of ‘Playing with Swagger’.(Links to an external site.)Race, Gender & Class, 19(3/4), 130-142.704606an hour agoRequiredLocker, S. (2015, December 8). Youth Sports: The Fast Lane to Retirement(Links to an external site.). TED Talk. [Video file, 14:34 mins].It’s all about me: Participation Trophies(Links to an external site.). (2013). Segment 25. [Video file, 3:34 mins]Kids’ Sports: Why Children Drop Sports(Links to an external site.). (2009). Segment 4. [Video file, 3:52mins]Lost adventures of childhood: The high price of hyper-parenting:High Pressure in Kids Sports(Links to an external site.). (2010). Segment 12. [Video file, 2:19 mins]‘Friday Night Tykes’ sparks debate(Links to an external site.). (2014, January 18). CNN News. [Video file, 3:54 mins].OptionalHealth news and interviews: Substance abuse and addiction video clips. Teens and Steroids(Links to an external site.). (2007). Segment 16. [Video file, 1:23 mins].American athletics: What happened to the game? Kids, Sports, and the American Dream(Links to an external site.). (1995). Segments 3 and 4. [Video file, 3:50 mins].704606an hour ago“Sports is a vital character builder. It molds the youth of our country for their roles as custodians of the republic. It teaches them to be strong enough to know they are weak and brave enough to face themselves when they are afraid. It teaches them to be proud and unbending in honest defeat, but humble and gentle in victory…It gives them a predominance of courage over timidity, of appetite for adventure over loss of ease.” General Douglas MacArthur (quoted in Gerdy, 2002, p.13).Sports are a microcosm of some very large aspects of the broader society. The crucible of youth development and socialization through participation in sports is an indelible part of American society. But, what is being taught by adults and learned by the young in youth sports today? Has the broader society’s growing income inequality and the stratospheric economics of professional sports, with its seemingly ever nastier “win at all costs” culture, filtered down to youth sports? Perhaps. But, perhaps also, the games themselves teach personal humility and decency to one’s opponents, as all will take turns failing individually and losing as a team, and dealing with those feelings in themselves and others. General MacArthur’s comments seem almost decent in today’s parlance, and they were certainly motivated by his, and far too many political-military leaders, desire to associate with winning teams and ape the oft-quoted remark about Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815(Links to an external site.)– “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.”704606an hour agoOddly enough, American youth sports have been understudied as Messner and Musto (2014) point out, but youth sports exemplars are very much exploited in popular culture, media and in the seedy business of streamlining young talent toward the college and professional ranks, so well captured in Hoop Dreams (1994)(Links to an external site.). Whether one watches “Friday Night Tykes,” or ESPN’s coverage of the Little League World Series, all of the trappings of big money college and professional sports have infused some youth sports. In the case of one local Texas high school football “community,” one can even now see a $63 million dollar stadium(Links to an external site.)as part of a public school bond drive and stadium signage sales as in the professional sports world. The focus on excessive and undue competition, and, of course, winning at a young age has been present in American society for many decades. It was well depicted in the excellent film written by the actor Burt Lancaster’s son – The Bad News Bears(Links to an external site.)(1976). Your focus here is exploring whether it is fundamentally worse now than it has been. Are youth sports today infecting future generations with bad sportsmanship, win at all costs standards of athlete and human mistreatment, and excessive commercialization? Or, are America’s local communities and young players of all ages, genders, races etc. working together to discover the better purposes of sport in our society, learning teamwork and community building the way we still idealize these social mores?704606an hour ago
Youth sports up to a certain age point are led from within local communities and usually by parents, who act as coaches and administrators of our various sport institutions. In these functions, family, community and the broader society pass along social organization patterns and mores, whether on income or race, for example. Grasmuck and Goldwater point out the replication of race and class divisions in little league baseball in an urban Philadelphia community, while the Karen book review notes the difficulties facing mother coaches in traditionally male sports. High parental involvement raises the stakes for kids in sports as perhaps too much emphasis is placed on creating “competitive kid capital,” and not enough on patient teaching and personal development of all of the youth on a team and across a league, as the Locker video illuminates quite well. The Graham et al. reading (2016) asserts that much can be learned about managerial strategies by analyzing parents coaching their own children, particularly fathers.704606an hour agoThey argue that a family systems theory(Links to an external site.)perspective is best to understand whether or not fathers coaching create positive outcomes for their kids. This theory argues that the family is an emotional unit with complex interconnections among personal identities, roles and social statuses. Given this family systems model, the authors argue that sport is an especially attractive arena for men to fulfill their fathering responsibilities because it fits with the cultural values that define sport as a masculine domain. Indeed, sports are largely thought to be areas where traditional masculine values are supported and encouraged. Fathers who use sport as a way to interact and engage with their children have reported many positive outcomes over the generations. Several studies argue that fathers who adopt the coaching role form stronger emotional bonds with their children, and communicate with their children more regularly. There are also obvious pitfalls with parent-coaching, especially as children advance in their respective sports, and reach competitive, or even elite, levels. Fathers who coached their children at these elite levels of sport were often over-involved, and may unjustifiably linked their own self-worth to the accomplishment of their children. This is a typical “living through one’s children” scenario. One can conjure any number of examples that ended poorly due to this dynamic, including the story of Todd Marinovich(Links to an external site.). Finally, although parents comprise as much as 90% of youth sport coaches(Links to an external site.), it is critical that parent-coaches learn to separate the parenting role from the coaching role, and place the well-being of all the team’s members at the forefront of their instruction.704606an hour agoSport is consistently thought to be an institution crucial to the cultivation of well-adjusted, emotionally healthy children, an important societal value. Running counter to this claim is a less prevalent discussion, which argues that the institution of sport serves as an arena for perpetuating ongoing practices of discrimination and exclusion(Links to an external site.)[PDF, 7 KB]. Social exclusion within sport is typified by income inequality where wealthier kids play more expensive sports like ice hockey, and poorer kids play less green space and expensive equipment-laden games like basketball. Social exclusion from sport altogether is typified by young people who, because of lack of interest or physical talent, choose not to participate in sport at all. They may pay a high social price for this out-group behavior. Wilson (2002) sheds important light upon those children who do not participate in sport, focusing somewhat unduly on the Columbine attackers and their “persecution” at the hands of high school jocks. Indeed, Wilson creates a counter-narrative against youth athletics.704606an hour agoThis “Anti-Jock” movement examines a political expression about athlete culture, which is made possible through the production and consumption of anti-jock websites and webzines. The anti-jock movement should be examined as a veritable modern social movement; one that gains tremendous strength from the adoption of the Internet. The anti-jock movement is an interesting case study for understanding the way that young people resist dominant cultural narratives from their most-advantaged peers. There is little doubt that popular athletes enjoy many privileges from society and schools as they mature, often to their own developmental detriment, and worse, all of society, if their nihilistic behaviors take full flower.704606an hour agoUsing the Internet, young people may effectively join the anti-jock movement in a way that would have seemed impossible a generation earlier. Within the context of school bullying, the engendering of intensive social exclusion from high school and middle school athletics, and favoritism toward athletes(Links to an external site.), the anti-jock movement can be seen as an indictment against youth sport. The anti-jock, or anti-sport movement seeks not only to openly criticize youth athlete culture, but also, to raise awareness of people who compete in many “anti-sports,” such as spelling bees, geography competitions, and robotics contests(Links to an external site.).704606an hour agoHyman’s book focuses intently on the worse practices and examples in youth sports, and in particular on how “elite” level sports participation not only places pressure upon children to perform at a high level, but also places intensive scrutiny and pain upon their growing bodies. Hyman analyzes, diving, bodybuilding, running, wrestling, and football, and looks at pressure on boy wrestlers to “make weight” for their respective wrestling divisions. The most ambitious wrestlers can drop between 10 to 15 pounds in only a matter of days by adopting a drastic regimen of calorie restriction, laxatives, and sweating in saunas. Such measures may have serious health consequences for young athletes.(Links to an external site.)Whether swimming at excessively competitive levels too early, or trying to throw screwballs as a pitcher before 12 years of age, undue specialization is causing harm to youth in sports. Female gymnasts, for example, often find themselves in the same situation as wrestlers, and are regularly encouraged to keep weight off in an effort to maximize lightness on their feet. Today, many former gymnasts, figure skaters and the like are coming forward and discussing how the strict eating regimens have left them with permanent eating disorders.704606an hour agoOn the other end of the spectrum, Hyman discusses sports where health risks come not from the pressure to lose weight, but to gain weight, often to the point of obesity and/or steroid use. A high school lineman, for example, who could add significant weight to his frame and therefore be able to manhandle smaller opponents is a “coach’s dream.” Citing a 2005 study from the University of North Carolina, the author points out that 56% of current NFL players are considered to be clinically obese, and far too many have used steroids from a very young age, many in high school. Click here(Links to an external site.)for a Washington Post write-up on this UNC study. It is important to note that the NFL refutes the claims of the UNC study(Links to an external site.), saying that NFL body types are unique, and should not be evaluated according to a non-athlete standard. Noting a “rainbow of overuse injuries” in overly competitive youth sports (Hyman, 2009, p.66), Hyman does finish his book noting there are ways to change youth sports and create the more ideal experiences that do in fact build better character and community in American society. Chief among these is an “everyone makes the team” approach to participation (Hyman, 2009, p.125), disavowing the exclusionary “cut the worst” kids from the roster approach that typifies competitive sports like baseball from as early as 8 year old leagues. Ending the imposition of adult mores of competition and winning onto youth sports would be a good place to start improving youth sports.704606an hour agoOn the other end of the spectrum, Hyman discusses sports where health risks come not from the pressure to lose weight, but to gain weight, often to the point of obesity and/or steroid use. A high school lineman, for example, who could add significant weight to his frame and therefore be able to manhandle smaller opponents is a “coach’s dream.” Citing a 2005 study from the University of North Carolina, the author points out that 56% of current NFL players are considered to be clinically obese, and far too many have used steroids from a very young age, many in high school. Click here(Links to an external site.)for a Washington Post write-up on this UNC study. It is important to note that the NFL refutes the claims of the UNC study(Links to an external site.), saying that NFL body types are unique, and should not be evaluated according to a non-athlete standard. Noting a “rainbow of overuse injuries” in overly competitive youth sports (Hyman, 2009, p.66), Hyman does finish his book noting there are ways to change youth sports and create the more ideal experiences that do in fact build better character and community in American society. Chief among these is an “everyone makes the team” approach to participation (Hyman, 2009, p.125), disavowing the exclusionary “cut the worst” kids from the roster approach that typifies competitive sports like baseball from as early as 8 year old leagues. Ending the imposition of adult mores of competition and winning onto youth sports would be a good place to start improving youth sports
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