I saw in his eyes sheer delight and the joy of accomplishment. He had successfully faced a pitcher older and bigger and had fought off pitch after pitch before knocking a single into left field. His base hit drove in a run, continued an inning and fueled a rally which brought the team a victory from what looked like a certain defeat. He was willing to be taught and was willing to try. Success was secondary to the life skills he was mastering. Character traits will certainly be developed as one participates in team sports, but to attain positive character traits will require deliberate efforts by parents, adults, teammates and even leaders of the organization itself.
Positive character development has been assumed by parents as they sign their children up for belonging to teams in youth sports. Yet, there are examples described by Peter Cary in an article about Fred Engh, a founder of the National Alliance for Youth Sports. In these examples, Engh relates some of the ugliest episodes of adult interactions such as coaches yelling at and belittling players into tears, parents physically assaulting umpires and officials in the full view of kids, adults intimidating or threatening young players because of perceived on-field failures (par. 1).
Carey continues by relating stories of coaches using ‘loopholes’ to cheat in order to ‘win-at-all-costs’. In this illustration, players are told not to swing as an opposing pitcher is unable to throw strikes, resulting in the bases becoming loaded on walks. As the wild pitching continues and the aggressive base running persist the result is a game which no longer resembles baseball (par. 2).
Parents have long had a belief their child participating in team sports would develop positive character but the result is often in contrast. The expectation is your child is being taught high morals and values as part of the entire sports experience. Unfortunately, involvement in youth sports has not had the effect most parents are expecting. Instead author Carey informs the reader with disturbing statistics. He asserts 84% of parents surveyed in an issue of SportingKid magazine have witnessed ‘violent parental behavior’ toward children, coaches or official at kids’ sporting events, 80% said they had been victims of such behavior. Violence makes headlines too, as Docheff and Conn speak about a father of a 10 year old ice hockey player ‘confronts’ a coach, engages in ‘some verbal sparring’ until asked to leave. Then ‘the stressed father returns to the rink, challenges the coach again, and begins beating him while young athletes yell helplessly for the crazed parent to stop. It's too late. Two days later, a spokesperson for the hospital announces that the coach has died (par 1).’
Extreme parental behavior is not the norm, however one of the more widely reported cases of violence involved a woman who was jailed for trying to hire a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter's cheerleading rival. This...