The competitive spirit and thirst to want to better oneself in order to be at the top sis fueling force that will propel our children far beyond their years on the court. Providing children with equal playing time in youth sports discourages the necessary need for healthy competition and takes away valuable life lessons that will prepare them for the future. With over six years of experience coaching girls basketball at the grade school level, the debate over playing time is one thing that I have encountered a lot. For the most part people are strongly on one side or the other.
Although there are other people like me that disagree with this rule, in most grade school sports this rule has become a mandatory enforced aspect of the game – slowly and forcefully crushing the heart of the competitiveness that so many athletes join sports for. There are many counterclaim to this debate ranging from psychological harm all the way to it creating the obesity epidemic we are currently facing in our country. One debate that I have heard numerous times is that children learn through playing an actual game verses only in practice.
This is ridiculous! To start off, any good player treats practice as though it is a game and puts forth just as much effort. Coaches demand his intensity level in practice, so they can adequately prepare their team for the actual games. Practice is where you learn; games are where you put your skills to the test. If kids actually learned more from games, and the purpose of coaching girl’s basketball at the beginning grade school level was in fact to Children should have to earn their playing time.
When we enforce the equal playing time rule we are taking away the goal in which the athletes aspire to achieve. We demise the competitive nature of the sport, and destroy the heart of the game. Not everybody can be winners, that is the harsh reality of fife! Kids put in the effort in practice in order to win games, therefore the best players should be the ones on the court representing their team. Why even keep score if the important is not who wins? Sports are suppose to be a competition thus they are going to have winners and losers.
This teaches the kids the importance Of sportsmanship and give them something to work towards. Similar to grades in school, some students earn better grades than others and they are rewarded for it. Sports should not be any different and we should allow the better athletes to shine, excel and be praised for their abilities rather than try and hold them back in order to even out the playing field for other players. No where in life are children going to have this luxury – they will benefit more from being told to work harder and catch up to the level in which their opponents are at!
The physical benefits that some argue are important to implement at such a young age is another argument put forth by the opposing side that I have heard numerous times. They claim that the importance of allowing children to rest in the game is crucial to maintaining their physical health and preventing injuries. The obvious factor n which this statement fails to ring true is that at any level players should be in a good enough physical condition to not only run the full amount of the game but to also be able hustle and go one hundred percent the entire time.
This is why practices are usually twice as long as games and any good coach expects their player to hustle throughout every drill. The obesity issue in which parents argue that by benching children it discourages them from playing the sport and thus results in a decrease of physical activity. If the child’s main goal is to get physically fit than they should not be on a team sport. There are many individual sports in which a child can strictly work towards bettering themselves without hurting the rest of the team.
If a parent is trying to put their child’s physical well being on the responsibility of their child’s coach that is absurd. A sports season is strictly just that a season and no coach should have to worry about the child’s physical fitness level during a game. If the coach allows the child practice with the team than by far he has fulfilled his duty. Lastly, the main argument that so many parents think they are justified in preaching is the physiological harm that is instilled in a child hat rides the bench.
Lack of self confidence and the feeling of unworthiness are claimed to have a more damaging affect on children than the fairy tale reality that equal playing time blinds them with. Why lie to our children? As parents and coaches we are suppose to prepare kids to excel at the next levels in life. The ability to get back on their feet after being knocked down and make the most out of any situation by far out shines this cushioning effect that parents insist that coaches to provide. This does nothing but delay the inevitable and handicap our children from learning the correct coping quenches to excel in not only sports but also in life.
One of the best basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan, has been quoted saying, “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. ” It is not just a game, it is a way of life. When the debate over equal playing is brought up the most important thing to remember is to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Yes sports at the grade school level do have the task of introducing the fundamentals of the game to individuals but they also carry the ability to teach so much more! Let the sport be the teacher and don’t manipulate the self guided lessons that players will encounter and benefit immensely from. To instill a sense of entitlement rather than a hard working mentality is exactly what giving the children equal playing is doing. Playing time at any level should be something that an athlete has to earn and the competitive spirit within a game should be praised and fueled not manipulated.