Play Sports For Fun

By Lenny Kass, MJDS Physical Education Teacher

Running youth sports programs is how I have spent a good portion of my adulthood.

Frequently, after a program has ended, the first thing I hear parents ask their children is "Did you win?" If the child did not, there appears to be a sense of disappointment. After all that is what sports are all about, right? Or is it...Why do we put our children in sports? Is it for the exercise? The development of sports skills? To learn to work as a team? Or for them to just play and have fun?

All of those things can be accomplished, win or lose. Unfortunately, today there seems to be such an emphasis on winning that, many times, the fun is lost. Often, children forget to be kind, honest and sportsman like because they are so determined to win. Mean behavior and cheating eliminates the fun for everyone. When the game becomes no fun, many children choose not to play, defeating any purpose for playing. As the adults, it is our job to teach children that games are for fun. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. But we can always have fun.

Maybe we can all put youth sports in a different perspective. As I often tell my students, "Until you get paid to play, it is just a game." So maybe the next time your child has finished a game, the question to be asked is " Did You Have Fun?" When the answer is YES, the reply is "Great!" and move on. If the answer is NO, the reply becomes "Why?" and then help them focus on the positive aspects of the experience. The goal should be to get as many children playing sports as possible. Win or lose, let's all get some exercise, learn new skills, make new friends and, above all, have fun!