Eslinger: Why does young generation feel entitled?

Updated: December 11, 2015

(Editor’s Note: The following column by Heath Eslinger, the head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga, appeared in the December issue of WIN.

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By Heath Eslinger

I hear a lot about “this generation.” It has almost become a catchword we throw around loosely to describe what we, as adults, would consider an entitled, rebellious, lazy generation. Now for those of you saying “AMEN” to that statement, let’s look deeper into the issue.

Maybe the term “this generation” has simply become the adult’s way of deflecting the responsibility off of them and on to our kids. I hear it over and over as mentioned earlier: “these kids now days…entitled, rebellious, lazy, etc.”

The last time I checked — and I have four kids of my own — children have continued to be born the exact same way since the beginning of time.   Toddlers are still the same as they were hundreds of years ago.

As my good friend Dr. Amanda Stanec with MoveLiveLearn once said, “kids aren’t lazy now days, adults are stupid.”latest issue and sub tease

Every three-year-old comes up to mom and dad and simply wants to play.   We then hand them an ipad, iphone or some sort of gaming device to get them out of our hair so that we can do what we consider more important. (Watch TV, look at Facebook, etc).

Yes, I am guilty. So who is lazy?

Maybe it’s not this generation that is the problem, but those who are leading them.

We also like to say that “this generation” is entitled. I couldn’t agree more!

Is the entitlement because 1975 is so much different chronologically than 2015? Could it perhaps be that the generation that’s leading them has become so wrapped up in things that are irrelevant that they have no concept of what’s truly important?

Maybe in an attempt to do everything for “this generation” to be successful in areas that are all temporal and fading, we have actually taught them that the world centers around their 10-year-old universe.

I am privileged to work in the sports world but I can truly say that we are at the top of the list when it comes to bolstering the entitled mentality.   We take our kids to private lessons, create travel teams, spend thousands of dollars on uniforms, skip church, and travel every weekend and then wonder why at 12 they would feel entitled.

Our youth are being treated like professional athletes and missing out on the lessons that youth need to learn. We aren’t teaching them to work hard, be independent, lead on teams that aren’t successful and work thru adversity. We are with good intention simply providing all the best opportunities, at any cost, ignoring the fact that it might possibly be a part of the problem.

Seriously, what happened to Rec League drafts and duffle bags full of old baseball bats? You simply found a bat that worked and found a way to get a hit. You learned to love the guys on your team even though they were at all different levels. It’s called adapting, dealing with adversity, learning to be thankful.

Each of these characteristic traits is quite the opposite of entitlement. We have traded the team and community approach for flat-billed hats, brand new bats and bags and travel teams that are too good to play in their hometown.

These are intrinsic issues where we have lost sight of teaching in order for our sons and daughters to be on all the best teams and to receive all the best coaching.

It’s time for us to choose to be a generation that doesn’t talk about “this generation” in a negative sense, which is really our own rebellion, but rather looks for way to better lead them toward the things that matters most.

As parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors let’s develop a strategy for the hearts of our kids that will eventually manifest in all areas of their very important lives. Let’s use athletics, academics, and other extracurricular activities to be platforms to teach what matters most instead of platforms to bolster individual gratification.

Let’s reclaim “this generation” as our own and point them to true hope, joy and understanding of what it means to be great.