This is the first time I have ever done anything like this before, really get my personal opinion out there with how I feel about sport. Going public with this has been a great challenge for me, but with the support of some awesome and wonderful friends here it is..
Thanks in advance for reading..
I am not a parent or retired high performance athlete or even an average athlete who has moved into coaching and sport administration. I am a person who found sport and who sport has been a major reason why I am now the person that I am. I love sport, the challenge, the learning, the skill development, the research that is developing daily…. I love it all... Except the negative parts. Maybe I am very naïve and maybe I live in an unreal world… the parts of sport that are not good are the same as what is wrong with the real world, jealousy, mistrust, lack of respect…. Bullying….
This is how I feel about sport.
There is so much good that comes from sport, it truly outweighs the negatives. Sport is or can be such a great thing for all athletes, able bodied and disabled alike, coaches, volunteers, administrators, parents, fans. There are so many non-sport skills that are developed through sport or any activity for that matter: time management, confidence, and respect for others, working together, communication, travel, planning, goal setting and personal evaluation. But sometimes sport is seen as the issue or the problem, I think it more helps us to see the issues in the real world and can give us methods to change the world in a positive way.
Competitive sport or recreational sport are all good and provide wonderful opportunities to everyone involved. The skills and personal development that can occur through sport is amazing. Bu there are negative things that comes from both as well... We need to work harder at finding a way to eliminate the negative and make the positive aspects even stronger.
So what are some of the issues? For the most part they stem from one problem…. BULLYING
-athletes bullying athletes
-parents bullying parents
-parents questioning coaches and other volunteers
-administrators bullying coaches and other volunteers
-well-meaning administrators who do not fully understand the sport.
The demand for respect and understanding of one’s situation or perspective but the lack of respect for others. This is a two way street, people want respect, but often are unwilling to give it and expect more than they give.
Athletes who bully other athletes is very prevalent in sport. Today athletes and young people are pretty good at hiding this. And those being bullied are not so willing to come forward and tell someone this is happening. Why? I am not sure… we talk about it all the time and tell people to come forward, but it is still not happening. And if an athlete comes forward and tells that they are being bullied? What do we do? How do we handle it? I am really not sure. But we need to come up with something.
Kids bully others about their height, weight, skill, ability, events they go to or not go to, equipment they have or don’t have and sometimes athletes will follow their pre competition routine simply to disrupt others pre competition routine. This has to stop.
Sometimes parents, volunteers etc., do not trust others that are part of the organizations that must work together. So sometimes these volunteers do things that they feel are helpful to their program, club or PSO (or their own child athlete) without taking into full consideration the bigger, picture which has to remain Athlete Development
So what is Athlete Development? This is a process that can take an athlete from their first exposure of a sport to the most elite level of that sport, be it a professional league or tour or National Team. There are many places along the way the athlete can start, finish or rejoin. And this is if there are no injuries. This is a pathway with bench marks and “boxes to tick off” that must occur at least in the more or less correct order if not at the exact right times based on science, research and other evidences. Meaning certain things must happen and certain things need to be done in a certain order for the athlete to achieve the highest possible skill level.
Not all athletes will make it to the top of the sport. And that must be OK. In large programs athletes that have the skill and the where with all to be competitive and work towards the top have a solid structural opportunities under which to work and develop. For those in smaller programs the program has to be everything to everyone, meaning they must provide the coaching, and training and competitive opportunities for those that want to pursue the high performance stream as well as a less intense program for those who cannot for whatever reason, be it financial, skill or desire. Or the smaller program has to choose which it will do. And again, that has to be OK.
For provincial or regional organisations that work with National Sport Organizations, their job is to bring athletes to the National Team, That might be a junior team, a development team, or a C team based on the structure and wording of the particular sport. The National Sport Organization likely has these benchmarks laid out and have the expectation that the PSO or region will have a structure to hit all or most of these with the best athletes and using this structure to develop skills of other athletes.
The things that are lacking in the world or real world are also lacking in sport. Trust, respect, cooperation and appreciation. (For others situations)
For young athletes we need to make sure there is a good and proper balance between external motivation (top awards) and internal motivations. Parents really need to listen to coaches and program directors when it comes to number of training days or sessions versus competition days- specialization.
Young athletes to a certain extent only understand their value based on awards and placings in competition. And this fine, the coaches and parents can see the skill development even when the athlete might not be able to. Things such as top provincial or regional age group awards, being selected to a top team for a major competition. These are great external motivations and very needed, we as coaches need to do a better job at being able to help athlete’s understand that skill development is a progression and it take time and that they are making gains all the time. Even if they cannot see it. In my sport athletes see time as their only way of measuring success. They only see that made gains if they narrow the gap between them and the athlete they are chasing. For example an athlete at 11 years of age if the athlete does not win the provincial title, this is in no way an indication of where they will be at age 19 when the National team will looking at them. Small improvements added together at the right time (which could be different for many athletes) could be the catalyst which will drive an athlete to the top. We also have to do a better job encouraging and finding a place on all teams for the athlete that is not the best. Everyone has something to contribute to every team, no matter their skill.