Strategies Table of Contents
What Teens Need from Sport Programs: Educational Athletics by Transformational Coaches
Interscholastic athletics are deeply rooted in
American school culture, as fundamental to the high
school experience as prom night and report cards (Ripley,
2013). These programs are assumed by many to have potential to teach valuable life skills, such as authentic teamwork
and hard work, while also promoting a healthy lifestyle and
well-being. Research also supports claims of greater educational outcomes, increased rates of school attendance,
enhanced school engagement, and strong sense of belonging,
all of which contribute to developing better citizens later in
life (National Federation of State High School Associations
However, some would argue that our high school athletic
programs have evolved to resemble Division I intercollegiate
programs, resulting in misplaced priorities, including unethical behavior and a growing sense of unrealized potential
(Bowen & Levin, 2003). Karissa Niehoff, newly appointed
executive director for the NFHS, states that the educational-based athletic environment is under attack by the oppressive
forces of professionalization and inappropriate recruitment
practices (Niehoff, 2018).
Currently, there is also nationwide concern about year-round training and the growing intrusion of youth and
school sport on the lives of kids and families (Hyman, 2013).
For too many young participants, the sporting experience
has become developmentally inappropriate. Many teens
have grown up surrounded by “helicopter/bulldozer parents,” who are deeply invested in their children’s athletic careers. Instead of emphasizing the core values and broader social benefits that are attainable via sport participation, their
own goals can become too narrowly focused on the pursuit
of an intercollegiate athletic scholarship.
To read the rest of this article, click here to download a pdf.