Linda Flanagan: Youth Sports are Out of Control

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Linda Flanagan says youth sports are out of control.

And she should know.

Flanagan is a former youth athlete, cross country coach, mother of a young athletes, and the author of Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania are Ruining Kids’ Sports – and Why It Matters.

“If your goal is to cultivate a well-adjusted, responsible child who contributes to the family, then limiting T-ball, youth soccer & it’s ilk may be wisest,” she says in her book. “Western parenting customs that put the child at the center – usually with the goal of engendering happiness among the young – also fragment families and erode self-sufficiency.”

That’s quite a different point of view than the traditional “sports teaches kids teamwork and builds character” POV. But while sports can teach teamwork and build character, so do other activities, such as working together as a family. And youth sports in the 21st century often include significant downsides, including massive investments of time and money, over-emphasis on children’s achievements, and risk of over-use injuries.

In this episode, Jen, Janet, & Linda discuss:
  • How youth sports have changed since you were a child
  • The high price of youth sports
  • How over-emphasis on sport hurts kids, families, and communities
  • Practical guidelines for integrating sports and family time
  • Setting boundaries
  • Healthy sports parenting
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania are Ruining Youth Sports – and Why It Matters, by Linda Flanagan — Linda’s website

Coaches Speak About Youth Sports — ON BOYS episode

Sports & Masculinity — ON BOYS episode

Healthy Sports Parenting — ON BOYS episode

Hunt Gather Parent with Michaeleen Ducleff — ON BOYS episode

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