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Eslinger: Keep youth sports in perspective
By Heath Eslinger
As a parent of four children and the head coach of a Division I wrestling team, I am immersed daily in the sports world. I must admit that while I am an avid sports fan, I am not one that buys into the everyday philosophy of most parents and coaches. I’d like to give my thoughts on one of the biggest misconceptions in sport today. I hope this dialogue will provide insight and allow coaches, parents and leaders to more effectively lead the athletes in whom we have been given the privilege to influence in a positive way
Misconception #1: If you don’t start early, you will always be behind.
I have never been an advocate of organized sports for very young children and when I became a father myself, that thought process was confirmed. When you have multiple children, it’s hard to justify long days at the ball field or gym for one child when the other children just sit around and wait. It’s also ironic that we have been convinced that the only way someone will play professional sports is if we start them in organized sports post toddler.
As one of my college professors once told me, “if you want to be a professional athlete, you need to do two things: work hard and pick your parents right.”
As my oldest daughter matured, I would have friends and colleagues ask if she was competing in a specific sport. When I would reply with, “we are going to just wait to start”, they would all reply with the same comment. “Well nowadays, if you don’t start early, you are going to get left behind”.
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