“Athletics” is defined as “exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, skill, or agility of the participant” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1984).
Millions of pre-adolescents participate in amateur sports, and competitive pressure is increasing. Some children who compete in amateur sports develop physical difficulties, joint problems, or overdeveloped muscles requiring corrective surgery. Others quit because they feel left out, since the better performers receive preferred treatment and playing positions. Those who remain are hurt by the threats or put-downs of over-zealous parents or coaches.
Parents and coaches need to evaluate the pressure they put on children and ask themselves whether or not they are projecting some of their own aspirations and disappointments onto their children. If this is true, they must then analyze the effects of this on impressionable boys and girls. Clinics and workshops are now training coaches in more moderate approaches.