An Open Letter to Parents About Youth Recreational Sports

Subject: An Open Letter to Parents About Youth Recreational Sports
From: Your youth recreational sports league
Date: 6 May 2015

Dear Parents,

Thank you for enrolling your child in a recreational league. Rec sports are a great way to help kids have fun while staying healthy and active.

The definition of recreation is activity done for enjoyment. The mission of our recreational league is for all of our players to find enjoyment in this sport, no matter their skill or ability level.

While we believe that there’s a place for more competitive youth leagues, we want to be clear. We are not that place. Why? Let’s start with a few facts:

More than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

Research from the Positive Coaching Alliance shows that 70% of children quit playing sports by the age of 13. Children list the pressure put on them to win as one of the top reasons they quit.

We as a league are working to change these statistics by creating an environment where every child feels welcome to play this sport to the best of his or her ability — but we can’t do it without your help. Unfortunately, the kind of behavior that encourages kids to drop out of sports has become so common in recreational leagues, many adults don’t even realize they’re engaging in it.

For your reference, these behaviors include:

-Parents shouting criticisms of their children’s mistakes during a game.

-Coaches yelling at kids for not running fast enough, not listening, or making technical mistakes.

-Parents saying nothing when their kids taunt teammates or members of the opposing team for their mistakes or lack of ability.

-Coaches keeping kids on the sidelines who aren’t as skilled as the others on their team.

-Parents insulting children on the opposing team, coaches arguing with coaches, parents arguing with refs, parents arguing with parents, coaches arguing with coaches, etc.

Parents, we want you to see every moment that you spend on a recreational field as an opportunity to build other children up for their courage in getting out there and making an effort, rather than tearing them down for their lack of ability.

We encourage you to talk to your kids before games and practices and make sure they understand that it’s not okay to criticize or taunt their less-experienced teammates or members of the opposing team.

We ask for your help in ensuring our coaches understand that recreational sports are for enjoyment, not training grounds for future pro athletes, and we are happy to work with you to politely remind them if they seem to be missing the boat.

We request that you put your competitiveness aside during recreational games and cheer for the points scored on both sides. Yes, you read that right. There is no reason why we can’t celebrate the accomplishments of every child on the field.

We need to do these things simply because recreational sports may be the only shot we have at keeping hundreds of thousands of kids across the country healthy and active well into adulthood. Look at the statistics. THIS MATTERS.

We encourage those children who have the desire for greater competitiveness to try out for an elite or travel team. There, they will learn whether they truly have what it takes to go to the next level.

As for our recreational leagues, we are constantly working to keep them open, accessible and welcoming to all children. Thanks in advance for helping us make this possible.


Your youth recreational sports league