Making Choices in Youth Sports

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We can not control what happens to us in life, but we can control our reaction to what happens to us in life! This weekend, we came across the perfect example of poor sportsmanship. We could have reacted in a number of ways. The way my players reacted made me proud. 

A Really Poor Sportsman

Imagine a team of teenaged boys who were drunk last night, hungover today after destroying their family home the night before. That's who we played on Sunday. No coach was there to provide adult supervision. A single center ref who was 16 or 17 years old was there to try and contain the foul language, spitting, middle fingers, jeering, taunting, and deliberate tripping from behind. 

Sunday's game was a mess. The ref approached me after the game and offered to call it quits. He felt the players were rude, disrespectful, and difficult to control. My team opted to play it out. 

We were not there to win the game at that point. With 9 field players, we had little chance of that. But we did use the experience as an opportunity to practice how we can and should respond to rude, arrogant, disrespectful people. It's not like we won't encounter these types later in life, right? Of course we do. Why not use the game to teach a valuable life lesson. That is, after all, what youth sports is really meant to do, is it not? 

Decisions We Make

We made a decision to play the game. We made a decision to stick with it and to see it through. We made decisions each time a player cursed or taunted us. We made decisions to keep our spirits up despite the noise. I genuinely believe that we got more out of that terrible display of sportsmanship that we could have gotten if we just beat that team on the scoreboard. 

Engage Parents and Coaches

When confronted with situations like these, you know the ride home in the car and the evening dinner discussion are going to be full of negativity. Negativity when facing a poor sportsman is well earned, right? At least that's what some people believe. In our case, 

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The Soccer Sidelines

Soccer Dad, Coach, and Club President who is devoted to developing kids and their families. With a diverse background in leadership in other settings, David is focused on empowering parents, players, and coaches to focus on the stuff that really matters in youth sports.