Win, Win, Win


Everyone has seen those parents who force their 8 year old kids through the best sports camps in the country, who make their kids play every game even if they're injured, even if they don't want to play the sport any more. When did breeding kids to become professional athletes become acceptable? How does forcing kids to be involved in sports impact them?

Clearly, pushing kids to be intensively involved in sports can cause physical injury. Often times when kids become injured parents force them back to practice before they are properly healed. This can lead to more serious injuries. For instance, tedion or cartilage damage in the knees, are often caused by excessively pushing yourself when you are hurt and some of the solutions to this include knee surgery (for more info click here).

Not only does pushing children in sports too hard affect them physically it also affects their happiness. A study that administered a psychological test to 73 Dutch parents around age 43 with children 8-15 involved in sports found that parents who considered their kids as part of themselves, rather than individuals, were more likely to push their kids in sports to fulfill dreams that they did not fulfill in their childhood. These parents often put their children in situations where they could not possibly succeed. This was found to hinder psychological development in children and cause them to turn to alcohol or drugs and become depressed. Further it was found that parents, who put their children in situations where they could not possibly succeed, led to their children having low self-esteem and low self-worth. It was also found that when children receive strong encouragement and approval for excellent sports performances, they are more likely to believe that their self-worth is measured by their abilities and skills (to checkout this article click here).

While the physical and psychological effects of parents pushing their kids through sports are alarming, the real issue is that society has now put the importance of winning (whether it be a sport or not) over the lessons learned in playing the game. Parents have placed so much emphasis on the importance of winning that children think the only thing that really matters in life is winning. Children do not understand the real values of sports such as teamwork, responsibility, and discipline. As parents continue to force their children to be intensively involved in sports, children's self-esteem, self-worth, and their bodies are deteriorating and the real lessons learned in sports the work ethic, teamwork, and discipline are lost in the fray.


I fundamentally disagree with you on this one. While I agree that it might suck to play a sport that one may not want to, playing sports at a young age has an incredible advantage for the rest of anybody's life. By playing sports from a young age, you learn leadership, teamwork, and hard work. I can guarantee that most parents aren't trying to live out their dreams via a Little League Baseball game. The more likely explanation is that these parents simply want to set up their children to be healthy and active people. It makes much more sense to have a 10 year old play soccer rather than have him go to the gym 4 days a week and hit the treadmill. According to The University Of Rochester, kids that play outside are more likely to be happier and healthier. Beyond that, they are set up to have better social skills and higher self confidence than those that do not get exposed to sports at a young age.


I think the idea of parents living vicariously through their kids is becoming more and more prevalent. Sports are definitely subject to this, but I think it can be applied to almost and activity or opportunity that kids have when their young. That might sound like a ridiculous claim, but at such young ages, it can very difficult for children to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to thinking/planning for the future. In that aspect, it is somewhat of a duty of the parent to make sure they are involving their kids when they should be, but keeping the interest of the child in mind. I feel like we see a lot of parents living vicariously through children via music. Kids get involved with instruments/music at very young ages now, and many times for good reason, but in my opinion, learning to play an instrument is something that a lot of adults regret about their childhoods more than other things. I found a pretty interesting article on the dangers of living vicariously through your children. take a look:


I personally agree with Cara. Yes, there are numerous benefits for children playing sports- T-ball and little league have wonderful impacts on physical fitness and social skills. However, there are some parents who take it to the extreme- and that's when it becomes dangerous.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, what this refers to is overuse. As children become overly involved in sports (many times against their will), playing year round or multiple times a year, they have an increased risk for injury. This parental pressure can lead to burnout, or if they are forced to play on an injury, this can cause irreversible damage to their bodies. I relate these types of parents to pageant moms- I feel parents who force their children into overuse do it for a psychological reason themselves. Sports are wonderful, but like everything else, in moderation.

This is a little controversial, because it can be a good thing and a bad thing. I have three younger brothers who all play sports, and my parents do not exactly push them, just sign them up for many sports. However, I have been to their games and some parents are RIDICULOUS. At a basketball game, I witnessed a father stand up from the fan section in the referee's face screaming at him at the top of his lungs about how his son is the star and the ref does not know anything... How old were these kids at the time? 8-9 years old... Really? You are going to cause a huge fuss and these kids barely even know how to play? I agee with Mark about people living through their kids, but that has been an ongoing thing I don't think it is becoming more "prevalent today". If you watch shows like "Toddler's and Tiaras", most of the mothers are usually people that could never really be in a pageant so they force their children to be "great" which is sickening. As well, at my 10-year old brothers baseball game I witnessed a father go up to his kid right after he ran off the field and he grabbed him screaming about how badly he played. That would ruin the sport for me entirely! There is a difference between support, trying to make the best out of your children, and wanting them to succeed as opposed to making their lives miserable and forcing them to do things that they do not even want to do. This link shows how Olympic parents have scarred them, forcing them to become anorexic, bulimic, etc.

This is a hard subject because the moral of the story could go both ways. First, I believe that parents should always give their kids a nudge in the direction they want to see them go, because you are a product of your parent, and it is their job to help steer you towards opportunities such as baseball, basketball, etc. Contrary to this, I also think that it can be taken too far, where the parents end up living vicariously through their children, and at this point the children have lost interest in what they are doing. The link below talks about a woman who strongly feels we should not force our kids to play sports simply because it is sending them the message that they can be whatever they want to be in life. Part of me agrees that the reality of life is tough, and not all kids are going to become professional athletes, but part of me also feels they all deserve a shot, and recreational or professional, it is important to get kids out there. Definitely a tough subject, but below is more on the article if you are interested!

I agree with you that parents over involvement in a child's sports career can cause problems. When your a little kid the only people you want to please are your parents. Whatever they want you to do you want to do because at such a young age you have no idea what you want to do with your life, your goals are mostly what your parents want them to be. I know my parents always wanted me to come to college so it was never out of the question for me but what if they had no input at all would i still want to go to college. I think parents don't mean to be doing any harm when they push their kids in sports they don't get that they are over working their kids they most the time just see their kid as an extension of themselves and wants to see them be better then every other kid their. Todd Marinovich was breed to be a super star quarter back. Since birth his father a quarterback coach worked him out to become the number 1 recuirt in the country he was a machine. He then went to USC where he had a great career. Then he went to the NFL where he never really made it because he got addicted to drugs. The stress to be the best was to much on him and that was the only thing he felt his entire life. So while his dad did breed the perfect quarterback physically, he messed it up because it hurt the kid mentally.

I think parents need to encourage their kids to do what THEY want to do, not necessarily force them to do it. That being said, it is perfectly normal for parents to support their kids in their endeavors as that is what they are for, to mold us into the people we were born to be. But when they start getting to invested in the outcome of such competitions and force their kid to practice to win every game and losing is NOT an option is where I take offense. Even outside of sports you can sometimes see this, a good example are those dumb beauty pageants where parents demand perfection from their kids to win money. Kids should never be a means to an end to obtain something, that is just morally wrong.

Parents will always try to get their kids to play sports. In my family, sports were a huge thing. I played three sports, my sister played three sports and that was what we were used to. When my brother came along is when the norm was broken. My brother has tried playing a number of different sports and he is just terrible at them all (really hope he doesn't see this somehow). Every sport he tries he wants to quit halfway through. Now initially I thought that he was just being a baby and didn't want to participate in the difficult physical nature of sports. However, he was just not good at sports. I started to watch what my brother did around the house more closely and I found out that he was better with a computer than I was. He loves computers and phones and technology. My parents found this out and initially rebelled and tried to force him to play sports. Eventually, my parents realized that what was best for my brother was to let him do his own thing and figure out what he wanted to do. I think more parents today need to figure out what their children actually like to do and help them along that path.

Hi Cara! I found your post to be very interesting and relatable to my own life. No! my parents were not the crazy ones pushing me in an excessive manner, however I have played sports for my entire life and have had teammates who's parents would. I have been fortunate to have great parents that have always supported my decisions, but would never encourage me to quit. I used to ref U10 soccer games here and there in high school and was astonished at the things that the parents and coaches would say to me especially considering that their child was still in elementary school. I personally feel that sports is taken way too seriously in our country today and has caused many of us to stray away from the important things in life. I feel along as nothing changes this will continue to become more and more serious, and may ultimately lead to the demise of sports as we know them today.

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