Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A high school runner's lament

I've never met Gabriel Weiss, but I'm already mightily impressed by him. Gabriel is a junior at a Jesuit high school near Dallas. He is a cross country and track athlete. And he is a thoughtful young man who, on the subject of kids and sports, expresses himself well. Last week, Gabriel wrote a piece for the Dallas Morning News about why he continues to play competitive sports. This paragraph stopped me.

"The games have been played the same since my grandfather's era, but a different mentality has taken over. The motivation beneath the helmets of football players and other competitive athletes is heavily influenced by scholarships and intense pressure from coaches and parents. The emphasis put on lengthy practices, which begin long before the season, transforms many high school sports into an almost full-time job. Can this high-stakes, pressure-infused way of playing possibly enhance the game, or is this tainting the true meaning of sports?"

The adults (myself included) may think we've disguised our ambitions and expectations for our kids in competitive sports. As Gabriel points out so well, most of us haven't.

Thanks to Doug Abrams for pointing out Gabriel's commentary.


Ward Wittman said...

I share with you the interest in this topic. As have you, I've spent a great deal researching and reading about the topic of youth sports.
After spending half of my life as a youth coach, I have spent the last few years watching from the sidelines. As a coach, I've seen some disturbing things. But as a fan and parent, it's been even worse.
As a person who has spent some time investigating this topic, I was hoping for your insight. I was hoping that you might take the time to read some of my work and offer me your insight.
I'm new to blogging but hope to create some dialogue and engineer greater insight into the beast of "youth sports".
Ward Wittman

Mark Hyman said...

Thanks for writing Ward. And welcome to the blogosphere.