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Not Everyone Can Be a Sports Superstar

Golf ball close to hole

If you attend a kids' sporting event, whether it's school-sponsored or otherwise, you're likely to notice that some parents and coaches are far more competitive than the kids. Many adults have a win-at-all-costs mentality when it comes to sports, and this attitude can lead to hyper-competition among children. 

When parents are tempted to overemphasize the importance of sports and winning, they should stop and ask themselves, "Why are my kids playing sports in the first place?" If the answers don't include "for fun", "for exercise", "to spend time with friends", or "to learn important values that sports and competition can teach", then there could be a problem. 

When Playing Sports Isn't Fun

Most kids don't participate in a sport to win games or trophies or to become a pro athlete. They just want to have fun playing with their friends. 

But the pressure parents can put on kids in sports often results in kids retreating to the sidelines. The National Council of Youth Sports reported that more than 41 million girls and boys currently participate in some kind of organized youth sport each year. Experts estimate, however, that more that 70 percent quit organized youth sports by age 13, or before they enter high school. Often, the pressure from adults to win or excel strips the fun out of playing sports, and that turns kids away. 

But My Kid Could Go Pro!

Even if your child is one of the 30 percent who continue to play sports in high school, it's highly unlikely that he or she will play college sports, let alone earn an athletic scholarship. It takes a "perfect storm" - the right combination of talent, hard work and luck - for a youth to go on to play at the college or professional level. 

Consider these facts:

  • Of the nearly 7 million boys and girls who currently play sports in high school, only about 126,000 student-athletes will receive either a partial or full athletic scholarship to play sports in college. That's less than 2 percent.
  • The chances of going pro are even slimmer:
    • 1 in 1,250 for football
    • 1 in 3,300 for men's basketball
    • 1in 5,000 for women's basketball

So, Why Should My Kid Play Sports?

The best reason is that young people can have fun and come away with something that helps them grow and mature - if the activity they participate in is carried out in a positive manner. Kids can learn skills and lessons they will use in other parts of their lives, for their entire lives. 

It's okay to want your kids to improve and become better athletes. But in the end, it's more important that they walk away from their sports experience as better people. Sports give kids the opportunity to learn good character and sportsmanship, and those qualities - combined with fun, friendship and fitness - are the greatest benefits of any game.