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Children's participation in sports continues to draw attention from parents from decades ago, and the influence continues today. It is rather unethical for parents to influence personal decision of their children, as children understand themselves better than their parents do. Parents' involvement in sports has negative outcomes as it makes children quit sports at an early age. Moreover, parents prefer taking their children to district schools where they can get potential sponsors and attention from sports scouts. These interferences take away fun out of sports in today's society. Children on the other hand, travel a lot to participate in sporting events. Travelling can negatively influence their school performances especially when long distances are involved. This essay takes a critical analysis of how parents negatively influence children sports, taking away the fun. In addition, the essay looks at sports statistics and examples in the earlier days as compared to today's events and participation.
Sporting among children has a host of issues that come with it especially when travelling is involved. A student who is engaged in sporting events may miss a proportion of academic work if compared to other students. According to Gibbs, (2), school curricula do not offer make-up classes for those who miss (Gibbs, 2). Travelling may also expose a child to improper habits, which can become part of a child's behavior pattern. However, travelling could be of benefit for a child as it leads to the development of social networking skills that is an important aspect in the learning process (Gibbs, 2).
Certain aspects of parental involvement in sporting experience of the youth are continually drawing concerns. In essence, parents' involvement is detrimental to the development of athletics among children. According to Cumming and Ewing, (1), "An increase in the number of reported instances of parents engaging in violent, abusive, and controlling behavior towards athletes, coaches, officials, and fellow spectators has led to many organizations to reconsider the role of parents in youth sports." Some institutions according to this statement have taken remedial measures to ensure that such involvements do not have affect children. An example is the National Alliance for Youth Sports, which has parental programs that address behavioral vices that curtail sports in youths. Under the program, parents get counsel on how to exercise self-control when watching sports events that their children are involved. Such programs intend to inform parents about the extent to which they must not pass if they want their children to excel in sports.
The level of parental involvement in children sports in increasing day by day due to the attractive sponsorship deals that is at stakes in certain professional sports. Schwab et al., (42) note that "In many cases, parents choose youth sport programs for their children's environment and free time periods to provide more opportunities to develop or socialize them into healthy, responsible, goal-driven, self-motivated people." Due to this, most parents wish to invest heavily in sports in terms of equipments, sports magazines, videos, and other sports gadgets that will increase sports skills in their kids. In addition, parents are ready to offer coaching services when their children are at home to ensure they succeed. However, the most striking observation is parents' willingness to transfer their children from one institution to another depending on reputation of an academic institution in sports. "Although such actions are supposedly taken in the 'child's best interests', there is a concern that the over-involvement of parents may negatively affect the child's immediate and long-term experiences in sports," (Cumming and Ewing 1).
It is fundamental that parents learn to moderate their involvement in youth sports in a bid to create a balance that would help youths develop their game more comprehensively. This is because the youth perceive their level of involvement as a motivation towards continued participation in sports. However, when this involvement exceeds moderate level, then parents become nuisance and impediment to derived utility of engaging in sports among youths. This may lead to diminishing interest and eventual withdrawal from sports.
There is great conflict of interests between parents and children when it comes to reason why children participate in sports. A research conducted in America among 25,000 youths across states found out that children engaged in sports mainly to have fan. Other than having fan, the second reason why they do take part in sports is to develop new skills, to be in companion of their pals, and the least driver for their participation in sport is to win (Cumming and Ewing 2). In the contrary, the number one reason why parents want their children to participate in sports is to win. This drive works against the interests of children because parents become preoccupied with winning and as a result pile pressure on them to perform. The eventual effect of this urge is that it forces children to drop out of sports.
It is therefore fundamental that parents learn their main role in youth sports. Their role should be mainly be driven by the urge to provide poignant support, finance, and encouragement. Mental support that parents should offer is how to teach their children cope up with the realities of losing and winning games, coaching on tactical skills, and opening their eyes on the importance of sports in the overall academic learning process. Nevertheless, parents do find themselves taught in the emotional web by becoming over-involved in their children's sporting experience. According to Cumming and Ewing, (3), "Athletes of parents that become emotionally over involved during practices or competitions often feel embarrassed, guilty or stresses, particularly following poor performances or losses."
Lee as quoted by Cumming and Ewing observes that there are two different types of parents who are emotionally involved in their children sports. There are the fanatical parents and the excitable ones. Excited parents are those who support their children during sports events but end up caught in the thrill of the game to the extent of emotional attachments. During training sessions, they shout directives at coaches, players and other leaders while at the same time, they are concerned with the physical fitness of their children. When physical injuries happen, they will run into the field to ascertain the level of damage that their children may have incurred. Although it may be a show of concern, there are well-trained first aiders assigned that duty and this makes their involvement distract and embarrassing in nature. As a result, their children tend to encourage their parents to stay away when they are in practice sessions.
However, fanatical parents are the worst in interfering with the achievement of youths in sports. Their children experience the greatest pressure and this is a great risk to long-term eventualities in sports engagements. Cumming and Ewing (3-4) note that, "Athletes of fanatical parents experience greater parental pressure, argue more frequently coaches and officials, experience problems with eating and sleeping, show less effort and enjoyment during training sessions, and more likely to drop out of sports." Fanatical parents have the notion that sport is a way to stardom, bagging win trophies, and rise in the social ladder. Such objectives are farfetched and unrealistic based on the belief that sports should be a form of investment into the future. This objectives are however set without the involvement of their children leading to a potential failure. "The latest figures suggest that less than one half of 1 percent of all high school athletes will never become professional athletes," (Cumming and Ewing 4).
Parents who are fanatical in nature tend to lead a vicarious life via their children in what Frank Smoll refers to as reverse-dependency. In this state, parents view their children as an extension of their abilities and self-worth. They would therefore wish that either their kids achieve what they can achieve or as an extension of their own ego. A successful sporting career for their children therefore receives a celebratory mood among parents but when children fail in their endeavors, instead of finding a way out of it, parents view themselves as failures. Fanatical parents always want their children to emulate them in case they themselves were successful. In this regard, coaches at times would encourage their athletes to achieve success level of their parents. The eventual; effect of such actions by parents further complicates life for children as they feel most embarrassed, increases pressure to perform, and may make a child to drop out of sports.
Some sports require substantial amount of financial and time investment. The most involving sports in this regard are skating, hockey, and gymnastics. Time and commitment invested in task involving activities can be a distraction to the normal running of family activities and increase stress levels of a child that is involved. "Athletes feel guilty about the consequences of their involvement in sports (e.g., marital disharmony, disruption to family life, loss of free time, cost of training and competition) and feel pressured to continue participating," (Cumming and Ewing 5). As a result, they are bound to get burnout in order to succumb to their parents' over indulgence pressures. In addition, children are obliged to compensate for the financial efforts, time, and other supports offered by their parents.
Sporting field has a lot of interindividual variability due to the psychological aspects that are involved. A number of theories try to explain the cause of this variability concerning self-perception, difference in level of motivation and a host of other issues, which are the main determinants in building the psychological construct. According to Horn and Horn, "Certainly, the research conducted to assess this link has provided consistent support for the importance of these psychological constructs," (685). However, it is worth noting that there are intrinsic and extrinsic social issues that contribute to these psychological factors. The social environment that a child is lives also contributes to the psychological state of a sporting kid. "The child who is at the center of or epicenter of this model, is surrounded by in concentric circles first by the individuals, organizations, and institutions in that child's immediate environment e.g. family, peer, school, neighborhood," (Horn and Horn 685). Parents exert the most pressure in the achievement or failure of a child who participates in sporting activities.
To begin with, parents have developed attitude against certain ethical behaviors in sports. There is a link between what parents perceive of their children behavior in antisocial sporting behaviors. For instance, a study by Morra and Smith as quoted by Horn and Horn alludes to the fact that parents have encouraged their children to perceive highly aggressive sporting acts in hockey and those acts are legitimate for a successful hockey player (689). As a result, some children develop aggression towards the sport due to the negative influence from their parents. A study to assess the degree to which other people contribute to development of antisocial behaviors in sports found that, most children see their parents as the main group that encourages aggression in sports. In addition, the study revealed that mothers are mainly responsible for influencing younger children (those in grade 4 and 5) while the influence for older children had fathers as the main contributors (Horn and Horn 689).
These studies attest to the fact that parents are mainly involved on how their children perceive sports. This influence of attitude is negative as it encourages aggression and antisocial sportsmanship. Other than planting aggression to their children, parents also influence the physical domain. According to the goal orientation theory, people generally get motivation to achieve high goals in both the academic and sports arena. The only difference is mechanisms set to measure and judge the success and accomplishment in a given field. Goal orientations can be either task-involved or ego-involved. Task-involved goal orientation uses the maxims of personal utility derived from sporting, improved skills, and experience to measure level of competence. On the contrary, ego-involved goal orientation measures achievement based on comparison between the achievements of two or more individuals. According to Horn and Horn, "The two different achievement orientations have been found to be associated with different achievement behaviors," (689). Parents negatively influence goal orientation of their children by providing ego-involved orientation. Different persons have different abilities and comparing two different people is a disregard to social coexistence.
The next negative influence that parents have on children's sports is that they hold gender biasness, different values, and tenets in the society. Parents have the notion that sports are more important to male children than it is for female gender especially in most physical sports. In addition, parents do encourage their male children to participate in sports more than they do for females. As such, parents perceive males as more competent in sports. "Furthermore, Fredrick and Eccles have recently found that parents of sons bought more athletics equipment, were more apt to encourage them to participate in sport, and spent more time on sport activities than did parents of daughters," (Horn and Horn 691). Gender biasness is inevitable when special preferences go in favor of sons at the expense of daughters. Whereas they encourage their sons at during sports activities, daughters on the other hand have constraints that limit their participation. Therefore boys are valued more than girls and this negatively affect girls' performances in sports.
There has been changing concepts in sports arena where sports that were not that 'American' continually get appreciation today than decades ago. For instance, The Major League Soccer has witnessed transformation with the signing of high profiled soccer players like David Beckam of England and Thiery Henry of France. Popular sports too undergo changes in America. At least 26 million people annually in America now play golf. These numbers have risen compared to statistical figures that were available back in 2005. Due to the growth of the sport, "The popularity of golf has been recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and bids to potentially add the sports at the 2016 Olympic Games are currently underway," (Carlisle 276). In addition, sports are now a commercial and most sports hosts attract lucrative amounts due to sports tourism. There is surge in the number of new sports, which require the construction of over 20,000-capacity (Houlihan 406). Due to rise in the number of popular sports in America and commercial nature of sports today, influence of parents in children involvement in sports continue to rise.
Role of parent in the sporting activities of their children continue to draw interests from various stakeholders in the sporting sector. This essay has affirmed that over indulgence of parents in the activities of their children is detrimental to child development. Parents must help their children to achieve their best ion sports but the degree of their involvement should be limited. Statistics indicate that new sports are on the rise in America and this together with financial benefits should not be the driving factor of developing sports culture in children. Supporting children in their sporting endeavors would therefore be leaving them to develop their game by themselves while parents only offer material and mental support.