Oh, To Be Czar Of Youth Sports

I would also like to see sports opportunities available to all children, regardless of income. Many sports leagues offer assistance to cover registration costs and some equipment, but many kids are still left sitting at home because of the costs involved. I would like to see more state and local governments come to the aid of these children.

I also think an equipment-donation program should be put into place for those who cannot afford to purchase new items.

What is the worst parent situation you have ever dealt with, and how was the matter resolved?

Kyle: As a parent myself, I can understand the time and money parents devote to their children’s sporting experience. While most parents are respectful and supportive, there is always a handful every season that can make your job particularly difficult.

We once had an incident during a youth-football practice. A custody situation involving divorced parents and their current spouses culminated in an assault in the parking lot in front of the child’s team. This was a frightening experience for all the young athletes.

We spoke to the individuals involved, as well as to law enforcement to obtain all the facts. We didn’t want to single out the child for the behavior of his parents, and we certainly didn’t want to end his participation by revoking his registration.

After our investigation, the parties received suspensions from the park, and were required to re-sign a code of ethics. They also wrote separate letters apologizing to both the football league and recreation and parks. There were no further incidents with these families, and the child still participates.

How do you deal with the fact that no matter what you do, there will always be some kids who don’t have an enjoyable experience in your program?

Kyle: It’s always difficult as a youth-sports administrator when a child has not had a favorable sports experience. However, we do not give up. Sports are more than a game; they are a set of life lessons. Kids growing up without them are really disadvantaged.

A bad sports experience can often be traced to a few causes: The child simply feels he or she is not talented enough to continue; the child is playing on a losing team; the parent(s) undermine the child’s experience, based on their own ideas; the coach is not a good fit; or the sport is not of interest. Most of these factors can be adapted until a child is able to find a fun experience.

With plenty of great coaches and over 21 sports offered in our area, there are ample opportunities for children to find an enjoyable experience in both individual and team sports at all levels of competition.

Fred Engh is founder and CEO of the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) in West Palm Beach, Fla. He can be reached via e-mail at fengh@nays.org. To join more than 3,000 communities by starting a NAYS chapter, visit www.nays.org or contact Emmy Martinez at emartinez@nays.org or (800) 729-2057.

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