Cursing in Youth Sports - An Attitude Problem

Just spend some time at a sports event for the local youth in your town and pay attention to not only the spectators but also the parents or coaches. Chances are, you will hear them shout at the top of their voices the most offensive words at players, opponents, officials and even at each other.

An “Attitude” Problem
I have come to link the profane behavior especially in the youth sports to an attitudinal problem. When they are shouting such vulgar words they are letting out their anger. It seems that profanity is the one medium in which people have fashion a way to express the anger and frustrations they have bottled within. And it is brought out when they are threatened, tensed or have a troubling episode.

By definition, an attitude is a behavior expressing one’s feelings, thoughts, or opinions. The attitude linked to youth sports should be fun yet all there is so much profanity.

To children, games are meant to be an avenue through which they learn how to be positively competitive, build their confidence, better their skills, let loose and have fun as they learn to adopt and overcome situations. It is easy to tell if children have attitudes by just watching how they respond and behave during a game or practice. Games develop a sportsmanship in them, giving them a sense of humor when they are beaten and how to be contented winners. Children learn how to identify with their mistakes. This is the nature of a good game. If children view a game to be just that, a game of sports, then profanity will never arise in games.

children cursing at the gaming officials just show me the kind of attitude they have for these games. Such outbursts are clear indicators of children who are pushed to the wall, driven by only the pursuit to win rather than enjoying the game. It shows me a bunch of children playing a game fully focused on not making any mistake. It shows me children who will find excuses or switch things placing the blame on others, yet mistakes are an inevitable outcome when playing sports.

Message to Adults: Your Attitude Is Showing!
Children are a mirror image of the society that shapes them, a thing that has been evident from one generation to the next. Yet the society seems oblivious of how children are cursing or simply choose to ignore the truth that is right in front of their eyes. Children will do what they see and say what they hear. Hence, youth sports have set measures to carb profanity in games. Some children will have none of this while others accept the set rules.

The right question on this subject of having children as little as nine years old using curse words is: What is the reason for having frustrated and stressed-out children in games who only vent through profanity?

In my opinion, there is a truth in the saying „The apple never falls far from the tree.“ We need to keep our behaviors in check, for as coaches or parents, what we do or say („our attitudes“) during the games is what our children will emulate in the youth sports. Rather than overreacting to mistakes or wrong calls, have a calm approach. Instead of being overly judgmental take a more positive approach. As parents, we should not be „trophy oriented“, pre-occupied with winning and siting at the top of the standings. Let us praise positive participation and not focus on statistics. Let us drop this attitude that has cropped in where we are hauling insults and other profanities to the gaming officials. We want our children to be better than us, yet we are doing little to show them how. Instead, we, the parents are on the bleachers having fun as we shout and curse. It confuses them.

Let’s just admit that we as parents never want to look at the „process“ but are keen on the „results.“ After the game we will be asking our children objective questions about who won, how many goals were scored, and how many goals our child scored. It is this behavior that we hold on to for the youth sports that will make our children not enjoy playing the game. It makes them to be strictly focused on winning rather than the process that leads to the win. What this teaches them that success is all about winning, not the skills used in the process leading up to success. It changes the mistakes to be just that, mistakes rather than being opportunities to learn. The boiling point of this is an outburst of profanity.

Studies show that the best sportsmen are task oriented, not oriented on winning. They are keen on the improvement of their skills evaluation every stage, the intensity, duration, and frequency of development in the sport. While all of this is to drive their ambitions of being winners, their true focus is on how to be inner champions first. They will not be overburdened by their mistakes, that of their opponents or the officials. Such sportsmen measure success according to their progress, not the sizes or number of trophies they acquired. They are ready to accept whatever outcomes in the game without blaming anyone else. We should guide our athletic children on such principle and do away with profanity in sports.

So, then next time you see or hear a nine year old cursing, do not just overlook it and smile. The real change for such a child will start with you. Start with changing your attitude before reciprocating the same to the child. As parents, let us have and exercise the right demeanor, a positive attitude. Remember that your attitude shows and your children can see it.

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