Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do Sports Turn Kids Into Bullies?

The short answer, per Kate Dailey at Newsweek.com, is yes.

Here's the caveat: When kids are maniacally focused on their sport -- without well-rounded experiences in things like community service or the arts or anything BUT sports -- they can turn into bullies. (I like Dailey's analogy of Cobra-Kai's Johnny.)

The other big factor: Is the coach nurturing or like Cobra-Kai's evil Kreese? Do they teach sportsmanship, in addition to skill-building? Do they try to make it about the play, rather than the winning?

I just finished a terrific new book by the journalist Joe Drape, called "Our Boys," about the uber-successful Smith Center High School football team in western Kansas. Coach Barta is precisely this nurturing kind of coach; despite his success, he is about developing young men into good men.

I know this blog is about raising all-star sports fans, rather than all-star athletes. But participating in sports -- playing -- is as much a part about growing up to love sports as a fan as anything else. The goal is to make that sports participation as productive as possible.

-- Dan

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