CEO: Why Do Your Kids Play Sports?

Oct 10, 2018, 11:37 AM by Chris Coker

Why is your kid in a sports program? What do you hope they get out of it? What do they hope to get out of it?

The reality is that very very very few kids will get any college money for sports, and even fewer will get pro money for it. Look at the difference between college sports and professional sports; the game play at the professional level is quantum levels higher than at the collegiate level.

So if we can all agree that our kids are probably not going to the pros, then why do sports?

We put our kids in sports because of the life lessons they learn: the values, the teamwork, the work ethic, sportsmanship, empathy, life-long health and so much more. At the Y, we have a special relationship with sports. We call it the “Y Way to Play.”  

When your kid plays a sport at the Y (and at other GOOD programs), they become part of a larger and supportive community. At our Y, we believe in the developmental assets for kids (the positive experiences, support systems and strengths young people need to succeed). Kids need sports to check the box on some of those developmental assets. 

In the Y Way to Play, we emphasize five things:


1. Fun

2. Sportsmanship

3. Opportunity

4. Progressive Competition

5. Community

No one can argue with the five areas of emphasis. We believe in competition. Winning and losing is important. In fact, how we handle losing is more important than how we handle winning. We want the kids to create opportunity for themselves and their teams. We demand good sportsmanship, and sports should be fun. We want kids to find a sport that they can play for life. Love of the game is very important to us.

I am going to digress a bit and tell you a story about a party that occurred recently in an affluent area. Twenty teens were together, upper middle class just like our community, and a popular boy Face-Timed a girl. During their conversation he convinced her to remove her top and to have a graphic conversation with him, all while 19 other teens secretly taped the conversation and then later shared it over their social media.

You can imagine the results that followed. I want you to think about the lack of empathy, the lack of self-worth, the lack of values and the lack of leadership displayed by those 20 teens. What was more important than that girl's feelings that caused the incredible need to feel accepted in their group? How was it that not one of those kids stood up and said, “This isn’t right, stop it!

As parents, we are on the shaky edge with social media. Our kids need to have thicker skin than ever, but I believe our kids have thinner skin than we had. How do we bulk that up? One way is through sports. Our sports programs are a partnership with you and the other families. 100% of our rec league programs are volunteer based and run. Y coaches are adult role models who know how important it is to build up your child, to praise them when they do well and to coach them when they do not. Look at what I said there: When they do not do well, they need coaching. They do not need to be yelled at or made to feel bad. They need to know that they can do better through hard work and practice. They need to know that there may always be someone better, but they can beat their personal best and continue to grow. That is what builds thicker skin and stronger character.

No one ever improved by getting a participation award.

Recently I saw a video of a youth baseball coach saying horrible things to his pitcher. The person who posted the video thought it was funny. Apparently this coach felt his pitcher didn't know he was throwing bad pitches, so he had to insult and belittle him instead of coaching him. Maybe he thought it was funny. I think he should never be a coach again.


Instead of insulting his players, he can lift them, coach them and encourage them to practice. The kid knew he threw a bad pitch; no one had to tell him. He needs to know how he can throw a better one and how to get out of his head when he is on a bad streak.

If your kid is in sports and has that kind of coach, switch teams right away. Do not let anyone emotionally abuse your kids, because they get enough of that at school and on social media.

Sports should be a respite for fun, exercise and adding assets to your kid's psyche. At the Y, it is our goal to be a refuge where children can come out better than when they started.

Your kid, my kid, almost every kid in our area may not be the next Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams or Danica Patrick, but chances are they will all be at a bunch of parties. How will they act?


Chris Coker  
YMCA of Boulder Valley CEO/President