2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Jessica Skolnikoff

Roger Williams University
What's a Parent to Do? The Contradictions Among the "Arms Race" of Youth Sports

How do parents cope with the “arms race in youth sports” in which conflicting and contradictory messages are sent that make it almost impossible to feel good about decisions made. “Kids should play a variety of sports” we are told, usually by experts who aren’t coaching individual teams. In contrast, “If your child doesn’t commit to this sport year-round, he/she will fall too far behind the others who do” we are told, often by those coaching individual teams. We all know (at least I think we do), that given injuries caused by repetition, burnout, simply the need for youthful experimentation and experience, that children should play multiple sports. Yet, many of us feel compelled, and often are led by our own children, in their demands that they focus on a single sport. Sometimes that pressure is subtle and sometimes not, but either way both are heightened by AAU coaches, Prep School coaches, high school and college coaches, travel team coaches, or other influential figures in our children’s lives. The truth, as we have lived it, is that it is also true that what coaches say publicly and loudly is not always what they believe and how they act privately.