I have been mulling this subject over for months – and it would be great to get your views.
I am a bit of a sports nut, have always loved playing sport and love supporting my kids in their various sports, but I feel quite alone in believing that it is only sport and unsocial behaviour, aggression and politics should be left out of it completely, especially in the junior levels. This is based on my personal experience with local sport and representative team selections.
I find the behaviour and attitudes that are displayed by elite sports people abhorrent. Maybe it is because of the vast sums of money that they are paid they seem to have lost focus of the main point which is it is an honour to represent your country or state and not a right to behave inappropriately.
This unnecessary behaviour begins way down at grass roots representative sport, where team management and coaches sacrifice local players to bring in players from other areas, just in the name of winning. I believe that local representative squads are there for the local players from the clubs in that area. The parent coaches join representative teams, select the team including their kids, rather than the selections being made by impartial selectors. Trials for these teams are unfair and more based on the who you know rather than ability. This leaves local kids who miss out feeling cheated and deflated not knowing how to improve their game. Representative teams should be chosen and coached by impartial brought in coaches.
I believe in being passionate about a sport, but it needs to be kept in perspective and at the end of the day, although I am loathe to say it – it is only sport, even at an elite youth sport level.
Our elite sports people should be displaying the best of behaviour, the sort of behaviour that you would want your child to display, but to be honest, a lot of the antics that go on are disgraceful, disrespectful and downright bad. I am the parent of a child who’s ambition is to be an elite sportsman and the values and behaviour of some of those at elite levels, often makes me wonder if being an elite sports person really is worth all the sacrifices that are needed to get there.
I believe we need to take a really good hard look at our junior sports programs and ensure that kids who want to get into elite sport are supported by a system that is unbiased, fair and promotes local talent, rather than taking a winning is everything approach and “buying” players in to win championships.