Many American children spend more than 20 hours a week in organized sports, forgoing free time and unstructured recreational activities for the rigors of training and competition. This book offers a comprehensive critique of the youth sports movement, pitting the reality of adult-run sports programs against the needs and interests of children. It examines whether the tradeoff of “normal play time” for structured sports activities teaches discipline and leads to stronger character development, or if the pressures of the game, the physical strain of practicing, and the general overscheduling of children’s lives have eroded the benefits associated with playing sports.
Educator and former coach Steven J. Overman contends that youth-based sports programs require a radical change for the well-being of the young participants. The book explores the various problems in organized sports, including stress on the family, physical health hazards, violence, emotional duress, elitism, and hyper-competitiveness. Incorporating the perspectives of coaches, athletes, parents, physicians, and social scientists, the narrative scrutinizes the role of adults as promoters and coaches and concludes with a discussion of current and needed reforms.
- Contains a separate chapter on youth football that highlights the toxic elements of the sport
- Features a comprehensive bibliography of some 275 sources containing scholarly and popular books, periodicals, conference papers, and online resources
- Offers a comprehensive view on the topic, including the expenses, injuries, and exploitation by coaches
- Explores the damaging culture of hypermasculinity inherent in boys sports