This is an article from yesterday’s New York Times sports page. As soon as I read it I ran the gamut of emotions starting with astonishment and ending with anger. What are we trying to do here? Isn’t this just exploiting kids? Why don’t we just let them be kids? I have a long time interest in Long Term Athlete Development, youth sports and physical education, this concept and many of the things being done with the proliferation of travel teams and national championships down to the under six age group are sad developments, they have no bases on sound pedagogy. Who is this for, it not for the kids, they are being used. The culmination of all of this is IOC Youth Olympics, an event that will only encourage more exploitation of youth. We are taking their childhood away from them and giving a distorted view of sport at the most impressionable age. We need to wake up and do something about this, it is wrong and exploitative, it is far from educational and I would venture to say in many cases it is both physiologically and physically harmful. Despite what many people think the Soviet Union and The East Germans did not do it this way, their sports programs were based on participation and physical education not early identification and competition.
This Friday I am speaking at the NSCA Sport Specific Conference in Nashville on this topic. This gives me more ammunition for my arguments and the position that I will present, essentially a plea for sanity based on sound pedagogy and principles of growth and development.