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Specialization, lack of dedication changing attitudes
January 15, 2018

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Over the past few years I have noticed a trend occurring not only in our community but all over the country regarding participation in youth sports.

Programming numbers for sports such as basketball, baseball and football have been on a steady decline.

The obvious question you ask is why? Based on my research and opinion, there are multiple reasons why these numbers seem to be declining.

I believe one of the major factors we are seeing is a specialization in one sport.

This specialization is consuming 100 percent of the athlete's commitment and dedication to their craft.

Coaches are emphasizing this commitment through travel ball and the athlete's dedication of time and money.

There are families spending thousands of dollars a year for registration fees, equipment and travel expenses. As a parent when you are making this financial commitment, you are going to listen to that coach, and most of the time, the song being sung comes with a 12-month commitment to that sport.

I also believe there is a lack of dedication and commitment from our young athletes today. The attitude that I have witnessed far too much lately is, when it gets hard, just quit.

Parents are encouraging this behavior and allowing kids to just quit when it's not easy anymore.

What ever happened to hard work? I was always taught the harder you work, the better you will get. Practice, practice, practice, and when you think practice is over, practice some more.

We need to encourage our kids to work hard, and earn the reward that comes along with that hard work at the end.

Finally, I believe the lack of sufficiently trained coaches are creating a negative environment and turning our kids off to sports in general.

One bad experience at 7 years old could ruin that kid's athletic career forever. We need to do a better job of finding and training our coaches and making them understand, it's not about winning and losing, but development.

I am certain there are numerous more reasons for this decline, but ultimately the three I listed above are the biggest, in my opinion.

Mike Hofer is the director of the Central Blair Recreation Commission.

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