Why do we do sports?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 28, 2016 9:10 PM GMT
    There has been a lot of attention in the Seattle Times for the cheating that has been goining on in the Belleveu High-School football program:


    Today’s editorial was good, and I felt a response was needed:


    I think we need a fundamental re-examination of sports in general, and perhaps basketball, in particular.

    My response:

    We need to put serious thought into why we play and encourage sports. If it is for joy, life enhancement, health, learning skill and activities that will be with us for the rest of our lives; if it to learn responsibility, focus, and sportsmanship - then we need to chart an entirely different course for high-school sports than this business has revealed.

    I have coached all my life, up to the Olympic level, and the number of kids I have seen come to hate sports because of pushy, win-or-else parents is staggering, as is the self-doubt and even self-loathing that comes from a win-or-else atmosphere when you don't win. And that's not even to speak of the many who never make a team because some other teenager had developed faster - or been pushed by a parent or coach.

    Is this really what we want in our schools? I believe all readers will agree that using public funding to inculcate these problems is wrong, let alone allowing outside funding and cheating.

    It will be unpopular, and it is not meant as a slur against the sport, but the football atmosphere and culture lend themselves to abuse. Schools need to de-emphasize (NOT eliminate) football, and stress lifetime sports and broad participation. We owe it to the kids. And, frankly, to our society.
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    Apr 30, 2016 4:32 AM GMT
    There are many reasons individuals do sports. Don't confuse those reasons with the money-making side of sports. The for-profit side (the NBA, NFL, NHA, NCAA, etc) includes people and organizations down to the grassroots level. It is virtually impossible to get on a college baseball team without going through the AAU-based 'teams' and training programs. This level of intensity and focus at young ages is counterproductive for long-term performance in a sport. Think of how many teenage baseball pitchers have had shoulder surgery - and that opens just a tiny window on how early focus on a singular sport can prematurely wear out a body. And having to join/attend all those teams in your teen years only adds to the cost of becoming an athlete. Some parents are spending over $60,000 a year for their 16-yr old kid (female) to compete in Alpine skiing. That athlete is probably competing at a regional level, with maybe one or two national exposures, and is most likely 5-6 yrs from truly being able to compete at an international level. So does the family have $500,000 or more dollars to throw at only the sport - not the other costs of supporting the family - for the next 5-6 years? The early-specialization-training (in all sports) has created a huge industry of coaches and programs who now coach year-round, whereas 30-40 years ago most of those coaches would have been part-time/seasonal at best, or mostly volunteers.

    It will be interesting to see how Sport (all sports) adapts to the new social structures and movements. Participation in most sports is declining, and how those 'grassroots'/early-age programs will continue to pay for full-time coaches and programs remains to be seen. What will Sport do with the growing obesity problem in youth? There alone is a huge drain on the pool of available/possible participants/athletes.

    Great question!
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    Apr 30, 2016 4:45 AM GMT
    Now, in response to your question. For myself, the motivating factor is self-improvement and testing. My involvement in sports is not about beating someone else - even when in competition. It is about personal bests. If my personal best is a best all-around performance for the day, so be it. Most of my personal bests have occurred with a less than 'best-all around' performance - and I actually still think of those moments as the highlights of my success - not necessarily when I have stood on the podium.

    Some may say I have made a contradictory statement when I say "my involvement in sports is not about beating someone else - even when in competition." To that, I say this - remember, for most sports it is not possible to gauge your performance/improvement without entering a competition. This is especially true for team sports, but holds true, also, for many individual sports. Also, there is the added psychological component of being in a competition - again, this provides an opportunity to test yourself in a new environment and new setting. Golfing by yourself is different than golfing with a group, or in a competition. Competition introduces elements of sport which cannot be replicated when alone. To engage in competition does not automatically mean you are competing against the other competitors.