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How Toxic Is Specialization In Sports?

How Toxic Is Specialization In Sports?

Because of specialization in sports and in the classroom, more and more children are becoming swimmingly upset. I like to use the duck analogy, on the surface everything seems to be normal, but when something happens they start paddling and quacking like crazy. There is so much pressure on them at an early age to be great or excel in school and the classroom that the first environment in which they should be learning becomes toxic.

This toxicity takes shape in many forms. You can see kids, parents, and coaches get discouraged when things don’t go well in a game or a test. Irritability rears its head in short harsh exchanges between peers.

In children as young as 10 years old I am seeing abnormal levels of poor social behavior that is not being curbed or corrected. I was coaching an inner city startup hockey program. We had many kids who could not afford any of the equipment needed to play ice hockey, so the city generously donated the equipment. In the first practice I noticed bad behavior by the kids, they were cutting in line, pushing and shoving, and making intimidating gestures towards smaller players. What jolted me was the fact that not one parent who was standing on the bench wanted their child to stop this behavior.

In one particular incident one boy cross checked for no apparent reason another player who just standing in line waiting their turn. As the one child fell to the ice the bully stood over her and mocked her. I immediately stepped in and put the boy in the penalty box for two minutes. After he calmed down I went to talk to him about the proper way to be a teammate and behave, he looked at me like I was an idiot. When practice was over I purposely stayed near him as he was leaving and I heard his father say “Don’t listen to the coach. Anyone that gets in your way you knock ‘em down.”

We are seeing envy to a great degree and jealousy. Arrogance in the form of I am better than you, so you must stay down is being perpetrated on the victims in such a high degree that I am concerned it will become an acceptable cultural practice if not abated.  At Balanced Excellence we are here to help the coaches eal with this elevated level of aggression in youth sports and help them to guide players to work on teamwork and socialization skills.

Written by : Jennifer