Today’s generation generally do not like being tied down to many commitments, they like the freedom of taking on different challenges whenever they please. The same applies to children, they are at an age where they should be experiencing as much as possible and a great place to start is in sports. However, parents are concerned with the commitments that sports impose, preventing children from playing another sport they might enjoy. Parents want their children to enjoy a sport for as long as they please, and instead, children must either become completely committed or face the chance of not playing a sport they may enjoy. This all or nothing commitment may scare certain children from participating in sports due to the fear of replacing leisure for competition.
There aren’t many alternatives available, for the majority of sports, they require complete dedication and this leaves little room for leisure with family or simply a weekend where the child can rest or commit to something other than a sport. This issue leads to another hurdle, joining high school sports teams or becoming recruited for college stresses the importance of 100% dedication and this defeats the purpose of child learning and enjoying the true benefits of a sport. They must decide whether they stick to one sport and perceive the sport as a means for an athletic career, rather than experimenting into multiple sports that may be more suitable to them.
Scouting has also forced children to shift their focus when playing sports, attempting to perfect their game and catch the eye of a potential scout. The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Associations have drafted a ban that forbids scouts from contacting children before they reach their junior year, in hopes of removing the clouded vision of child athletic star. The Ivy League has refuted the same thing, while the NCAA has refused to take action, early recruiting should not be the mindset a child develops, as they grow and learn through sports.
This youth sports system has been coined as a “youth sports industrial complex” –Tim Keown, a system where sports are viewed as a business, career building forum for young athletes to master and prove worthy for aspiring teams and investors. There is no time to enjoy playing a sport with friends, youth sports teams and leagues seek out for "elite" and "select" athletes that have greater potential in the nearby future. There shouldn't be an extensive emphasis on commitment, level of abilities or becoming an elite player.
Instead, what has come about from the today's industrial complex of sports has shifted to the extraction of fun for children who play sports for that underlying purpose, to have fun. It's a shame how sports have become stressful for families that seek to provide a growing and learning experience for their children.
Bringing about financial commitments that impede the opportunity to try other sports due to the high costs. In addition, the level of strain that is imposed on children leads them to becoming more prone to injury and resulting in life altering health issues. As mentioned, there may be a systematic reasoning to all this, it is based on the business of youth sports. Science and psychology have little influence over the decision to play on single sport. Instead, youth sports organizations are trying to capitalize on forcing children to play a single sport, because if a soccer club doesn't capitalize on the opportunity, a hockey club will, same goes for football, lacrosse, baseball, etc.. They see children as investments and this has shifted the needs of our children with the needs of business.
Perhaps the best alternative we can emphasize is to promote a multi-sport path that grants athletes and children the freedom to decide whether they truly want to dedicate many months to a single sport, or to shift between as many sports as they please. Specialization should not be considered, instead, the amount of sports that a child decides to pursue should follow with a learning experience and grant them the ability to develop specific skills, enjoy leisure, and understand the principles of sport, at a rate they can handle. The development of health and well-being should be the number one priority for parents, coaches, sports organizations and more importantly, for the child.