Today’s youth is quickly becoming known as the Kleenex generation. Their tears are wiped away. Their hands are sanitized, and feelings are protected tighter than Oprah’s personal phone number.
But has anyone asked why? Why is it all of a sudden unacceptable to allow a child to be upset, to be chosen last, to cry? It may be because there are still adults out there with no common sense.
Last month, Dallas Academy, a Christian high school populated by about 20 students, got blown out against Covenant High School in a basketball contest. Happens all the time, right? Wrong.
Covenant piled it on 100-0 by shooting second-half, three-point-shots, using a full-court press and taking fast-break points to a new level in girls high school basketball, all while the Covenant team already owned a lead over 50 points. The Covenant coach was fired 10 days after the win for not apologizing.
The sad thing is this is not the first time competition and sportsmanship was violated in a national spotlight.
John Heisman, a legendary figure in college football, once coached the Georgia Tech Bulldogs to a 222-0 win against Cumberland College. But did he get fired? Nope. Instead he was honored with a trophy in his name. Ever heard of it?
WNBA pioneer and icon, Lisa Leslie, once scored 101 points in the first half of a game previous of her professional days.
Before the start of the second half, the opposing coach forfeited. Was she disciplined? Not exactly. Instead she was offered a spot on the Olympic team and money to play on the L.A. Sparks.
Because of incidents like this, youth sports have transformed into more or less therapy sessions than competition.
Wheatland Athletic Association in Illinois posted this statement on its Website regarding little league soccer on Oct. 11:
“Spectators can clap at goals… but nothing else! Coaches, you can coach your team at halftime and for subbing players but that’s it! No coaching, yelling or talking from the coaches’ sideline. It has been found that kids are often confused by or simply ignore sideline input during games and that excessive yelling from sidelines can create unpleasant situations for all involved.”
No cheering? No coaching? The next thing to be eliminated could be winners and losers and then who knows? Kicking the ball might be outlawed because it promotes violence, the overweight players will be allowed to ride around in power chairs and halftime will include a Disney movie and a nap.
The fact is, today’s young athletes are pampered and overly protected from the real world, where uniform numbers are more important than what position they play.
What happens when these kids get to high school and then don’t make the team?
They could join the drama club, but even then, they might not get the part in the Nutcracker that they wanted.
This is not a new phenomenon. In 1997 Barbie’s waistline was expanded and her breasts were molded down. Mattel claimed the alterations reflected a change in fashion, not principles or morals. We all believe that.
Just because one coach in Dallas has no respect for the spirit of competition does not mean that everyone is out to humiliate little Johnny or Becky. The opposite seems to be true.
Regulations designed to protect participants from everything from natural disasters to physical abuse, or racial and even gender discrimination, are constantly updated and implemented.
Learning to win is not a bad thing and learning to lose is just as important. The real world is filled with opportunities to do both, but if a child is constantly told that they are already good enough, then why would they better themselves? Nobody would when they’ve got enough sixth place trophies to fill a minivan.
Improving character, developing mental toughness and building teamwork are what sports are about-no matter what level.