I started this column, ‘A note to parents…’, to communicate with you what we at ADVNC are seeing in this fast-changing world of youth sports and how we are hoping to mitigate the bad that is coming with the good. Specifically, how to ensure that the positive effect sports can have are being delivered in light of a growing youth sports industry that seemingly makes it harder and harder for a kid to be a kid.
With that in mind,
Our goal with this is two-fold:
Address and highlight the issues affecting families and have conversations with experts, families, and colleagues who are also looking at these same issues.
From these conversations, find, and implement solutions within ADVNC that will effect positive change
While we don’t think we’ll find all the solutions nor anticipate our implementation of them to be flawless, we hope to incrementally move the conversation about youth sports forward and engage with our families and colleagues on these issues.
Of particular concern to us are accessibility, youth burnout and undue pressure placed on players and families in the college search. In the coming months, we are going to share with you what we have learned and what we see, as well as what we’re trying to do about it. Here are some of our initial thoughts.
How to maintain accessibility in lieu of rising costs? This past year, numerous articles have been published about the growth, and unfortunate consequences, of the youth sports industry. The oft-cited statistics around youth sports show them becoming too expensive and too exclusive, with study after study confirming this belief. Yet the rising costs are inextricably linked to increased demands on coaches’ time, increased travel requirements and a tournament system that requires an incredible amount of logistical and professional support to provide the experience that families and parents expect. With increased expectations come increased costs, and confronting this issue head-on is at the forefront of our discussions.
How do we confront the general trends in participation due to player burnout and fatigue due to single-sport specialization? Dr. Travis Dorsch of the Utah State University Families in Sport lab has been one of the leading researchers into the trends in youth sports participation. This past summer I reached out and started a conversation with Dr. Dorsch, on how we, as a youth sports company, can help be part of the solution to this and the other problems facing youth sports. The conversation is ongoing and we’ve been able to draw in others with similar concerns and interest. In effect, I feel ADVNC has the opportunity as a leading youth sports organization to create guidelines and programs that encourage multi-sport athletes and better outcomes. It will be interesting to see where this conversation leads.
How can we guide families and players to reach their highest goals without creating a boiler room pressure-cooker environment? Guiding players and families through the college search and recruiting process is something we were formed to do. There is a balance between aiming for the prestigious school or scholarship with the reality that where you go to school does not make you who you are. Malcolm Gladwell’s recent exploration of the testing system on his podcast opened our ears about the higher education admissions process that were remarkable. (Definitely worth the time to listen!) We want these lessons to alleviate and guide those in this college process.
As we have grown from a camp and a team to a national youth sports services organization we feel our responsibility has grown as well. Not just to the players and families we coach and guide, but to the spirit of youth sports as well as to our mission. Keeping our mission intact is not easy. Especially given the societal and economic trends affecting youth sports as a whole.
While we explore these and other issues we hope to hear from those of you who share our interest and passion in keeping the youth sports experience as positive as possible. We know solutions won’t come easy but if we are positive and thoughtful in our approach we feel we can create a great future for our players, our families and our sport.
Until next time-