“Put me in Coach, I am ready to play”

by    Todd Fitzgerald, Board President Teach a Kid to Fish

As winter draws to a close and the sounds, smells and colors of spring start to abound, the MADNESS begins!

Winter, spring, summer and fall the “madness” of youth sports is year round. 

It is estimated that 35 million kids between the ages of 5-18 participate in organized sports each year.  66% of boys and 52% of girls play organized sports.  An even more staggering statistic is that 85% of coaches are dads who coach their own kids (which includes this proud father).

Nevertheless, it appears that more and more the innocence, freedom and time of our youth is being lost and overshadowed by coaches and parents who  have lost perspective regarding sports.

What I am writing about isn’t anything we have not heard of before.  We have seen and read the stories about parents fighting other parents, coaches fighting officials, coaches fighting coaches and even kids fighting kids.

A study completed by the National Alliance for Youth Sports found that 15% of youth sports involved an altercation between parents, coaches and officials had increased.  In a study completed by the National Association of Sports Officials found that the main reason officials stop officiating is because of the poor sportsmanship by parents.

The NCAA estimates that only 3/100 of 1% of male high school basketball players and 9/100 of 1% of high school male football players will play professionally. For girls the statistic is 2/100 of 1% of all high school females will play professionally.

I am a passionate fan when my son’s play sports and I am a competitor when I coach, but sports is a metaphor for life and when coached, cheered and practiced with positive encouragement the right way, sports can teach so many valuable lesson.

As I tell the kids I coach, “always be humble in victory and defeat, be a role model that someone younger than you can look up to and always do your best.”  That applies to parents, coaches and fans.  In sports lies integrity and we have the ability to impact the lives of our youth through sports and the lessons we teach as parents and coaches.

 So root on the Creighton Bluejays and the Nebraska Cornhusker men and women’s team as they embark in the NCAA Tournament.  Be the type of fan, parent, official and coach that exemplifies sportsmanship and integrity.

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