The NYT has a piece today that asks hard questions about youth sports insanity in the US. There have been plenty of articles about the myth of college scholarships; large increases in concussions and ACL injuries; the massive expense involved for many families that can’t afford it; and the psychologically harmful participation for many. But I haven’t seen an article that questions the very qualifications of coaches so powerfully, or the fact that parents don’t hold them to the same bar as the other adults that they entrust their kids to.
“The biggest challenge of youth sports in this country is so many of the adults who propagate the culture have no background in child development or physical education,” he said. “Their background is they played high school sports somewhere and they watch ESPN. Those are the two worst qualifications, ever.”
More qualified coaches would seem to be the answer. But despite all the money and time parents spend on sports, coaches in many communities are held to a lower standard than educators.
“Coaches are allowed to be emotionally illiterate,” Mr. Amaechi said. “I’ve watched as a coach stood screaming inches from the face of a girl and the parents were in the stands and instead of being incensed they continued screaming at her when she came to them.
“All you need to do to see what sport gets wrong is flip that scenario indoors and make that coach a French teacher,” he continued. “Your French teacher is inches away from your child’s face and screaming because she can’t conjugate a verb? Parents would stand by and allow that? No, they’d be incensed.”
Having spent a fair amount of time in this sphere, both as a parent and in the sports technology business, I do wonder whether this frenzy is close to peaking. There is a whole industry — from athletic directors, to coaches, to personal trainers, to video production and recruiting specialists, to physical therapists, to equipment manufacturers — who are highly incentivized to make sure people don’t question whether it’s in fact good for the majority of kids and families.