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May, 2018

Kids Sports....More Than Just Winning...

Originally published April 3, 1984

By:         Dick Sparrer

       Sports Editor

               Los Gatos Times-Observer


It’s spring, and youngsters are swarming to the baseball fields of the area like ants to a picnic table.

The kids of the Santa Clara County are preparing for their youth baseball and softball seasons on diamonds throughout the valley.

It’s that time of year when doctors and physical therapists warn parents and coaches about the negative effects of too many pitches on the young, developing elbows of Little League hurlers.

And local police departments warn motorists of the increasing number of children who will be riding their bikes to and from practice sessions at local schools and parks.

Of course, both are important warnings that we should all be aware of since the safety of our children is first and foremost on our priority lists.

But also important as the baseball and softball seasons begin are those injuries our youngsters can suffer through youth sports that aren’t so easy to see – those beneath the surface.  Parents and coaches must be aware of those possible injuries too.

First of all, adults involved in youth sports must remember that youngsters are playing the game for fun.  Along with learning the fundamentals, they must also learn to enjoy the grand old game of baseball.

So, adults, let’s stress the fun aspects of the game and de-emphasize the winning and losing.  Because when it comes right down to it, the pizza and root beer tastes just as good after a loss as it does after a win.

To kids, baseball isn’t much different than a video game.  When the ghosts devour all of their Pac Men, youngsters will simply move on to another machine in the arcade – and there’s always another baseball game next Saturday.

Parents must keep that in mind before they scream for a little 10-year-old to strike-out so that their child’s team can win.  And coaches must remember that before calling little fielder names just because he drops a fly ball.  They’re just kids – no game is that important.

A pat on the back certainly goes a lot farther than a nasty remark.  Youngsters should be encouraged after their mistakes, and they should be praised for their achievements.

Those achievements, too, will vary from player to player.  Ability levels are different for each youngster.  Simply catching a fly ball for some kids will be as great an accomplishment as a diving catch for others.  Remember that when handing down the praise.

There’s no doubt that youth sports serve as the training ground for athletes of the future.  But all of the kids involved aren’t going to be athletes in the years to come.

So, we must keep in mind that sports on the youth level must provide all the kids involved with some good recollections of their childhood.  Adults have to remember that, when all is said and done, youth sports will turn out to be just memories for most kids.  It’s up to the adults whether those memories will be good or bad.

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