Youth sports are viewed as a rite of passage in a child’s development. If the clichés that permeate sports broadcasts and locker room speeches are to be believed, sports participation teaches children the value of hard work, builds character, and develops future leaders.
While the validity of these claims are questionable, the fact remains that parents allow millions of children to participate in youth sports each year. At the very least, parents have partial faith in the idea that youth sports are good for their kids.
Yet as a researcher and consultant who studies youth sports, I frequently speak with concerned parents. They’re worried that their child’s experience playing organized sports has diverged from their own