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  Reply # 890979 6-Sep-2013 15:36
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the psychology of youth sports an American perspective

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  Reply # 890981 6-Sep-2013 15:45
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minimoke: The first thing I’d suggest is a school is a community. Something Hikea Parata had failed to realize when it has come to Christchurch schools – but that its another story.   

Part of that community is doing things together – and obviously sport is an ideal way of bringing kids together to work towards a common goal. 

PC people will probably say that goal is participation, the kids will say its about winning. 

Sport, at the end of the day, is about winning. That's the goal of any sport - at the end of the day.

The community concept/model used to exist to some degree with rugby (a long long time ago). By and large, it was quite an effective model for bringing community together (for better or worse :) ). However, there was a greater emphasis on the amateur ethos, where qualities such as loyalty (remember that concept), and good character were rewarded. Professionalism has basically killed that.

minimoke: Not only does it bring kids together, it’s a chance to bring parents together. When parents talk they get an understanding of the different qualities different teachers bring and they get to hear what their own kids are up to form different sources.

Not all kids are academic so the ability to “win” at something other than math’s or reading is probably vital to developing a sense of self esteem.   

Hopefully it goes without saying that sort is about risk/mitigation and effort/reward. As well as coping with loss. Stuff that isn’t learnt from a book   

You’ll probably find research that indicates sport is good for developing hand/eye coordination which helps develop the neural pathways in the brain.   
Sport, being a user of energy, is probably a good way of helping kids sleep at night. Which has to be a positive for parents   

They say “a kid in sport stays out of court”

The community aspect of sport doesn't really exist anymore - certainly nothing like it used to when rugby clubs were a community focal point (not saying it was necessarily a good thing - just saying).

The issue isn't that sports doesn't provide these positive things - in theory, it's that so many kids drop out of sport (because of elitism), that it becomes of question of whether the resources/effort/funding that go into sport could be best used elsewhere.

I mean - outside of private/boarding schools, how many students (as a proportion an entire school) really benefit from sports.
As I said earlier, the physical education curriculum would still remain.


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  Reply # 890983 6-Sep-2013 15:53
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To give less academic yet sporty kids some pride and self confidence.  School is not a one sized fits all thing. 

If you only concentrate on academics you risk losing the interest of sporty kids. 

Personally I think it is very important and you see the look of joy on kids faces who do well at school sports .  

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  Reply # 890985 6-Sep-2013 15:56
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nicnzl: Some people are better at sport, so they get to play in better teams. Some people are better at maths, so they get put in better classes. Elitism exists everywhere. But surely kids get put into teams/classes that suit their ability for whatever it is they do?


Except, with maths/english/science, everyone has to do it - even if they're in learning support or an extension class.

Not the case with sports. It's only for the elite. If you don't make the cut, you don't play.

I can only imagine the outcry if schools suddenly said only elite students could do math.

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  Reply # 891003 6-Sep-2013 16:30
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I mean - outside of private/boarding schools, how many students (as a proportion an entire school) really benefit from sports.


Without delving into your definition of “Benefit" I'd imagine most kids benefit. Or at least more do than don’t.




And I’m not sure what it is with the Private boarding school issue – has this something to do with elitism – again something that I’m not sure has been defined.




If I look at the past few weeks my kids, in public school, have beaten school teams from Private schools in Football, Chess, Water Polo, Current Events, robotics and some Biology Olympics thing and failed pretty miserably in the 48 Film Making challenge. Which also begs the question “what is sport”?

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  Reply # 891005 6-Sep-2013 16:31
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LazyDr: I wasn't trying to suggest it doesn't exist, it was there when i was last at school over 12 years ago, and would be surprised if that had changed... was just the fact that i personally am not involved with it at the moment, so didn't want to make a statement suggesting something was definite when i can't prove it ;)

Sorry, my bad - misinterpreted the response.

LazyDr: To throw more logs on the fire, you mentioned that if your child was going to be playing from the bench for the season, you'd pull him. Your argument and reasoning for that is very rational, and i'd have thoughts along the same lines if i was in that position, BUT, isn't the usual situation that you're unlikely to know for certain that your child wouldn't be given a starting position at all that early on in the season, and so being on the bench could supposedly motivate them to work harder to achieve that starting spot?

You'd know fairly quickly if your child was going to a bench player for the rest of the season (unless you were the coach/manager, or one of the inner-circle parents).

Well, yeah. That's the typical story for why Johnny sits on the bench every week. The reality is, sometimes Johnny is never going be good enough to make the starting team, and sadly there are a lot of Johnnies out there.
What happens to Johnny?
He almost always leaves, unless his pubertic growth spurt changes his situation - which funnily enough, happens a lot more than people think.

Generally, most of the Johnny's leave the sport by the time they're in their 2nd or 3rd year at college. The problem with this of course, is that the available playing pool shrinks, thereby affecting how many teams a school can field, and also how many teams are available for local competition - it all has a flow-on effect.
Of course, the remaining player pool - who generally consist of players one would consider as quite capable, have to fight it out amongst themselves for places for whatever is left over etc.

I suspect, it's one of the reasons why individual sports pick up a lot stragglers.

LazyDr: Not an apples for apples example, but imagine Tom Taylor had given up on All Black aspirations given he was ?5th in line for a starting spot. Now he's had a chance to prove himself, and most would tag him as a future starter at some stage. Worth staying "on the bench" for that opportunity?

I put professional sport in an entirely different category from youth/school sport. As far as I'm concerned pro-sport is just entertainment - which I do like to watch from time to time.

It's definitely not an apple to apples comparison for various reasons.
Tom Taylor get's paid to play rugby. I don't know if it's his only job, but now he's an AB, I'm sure that pay packet is a little sweeter. If you paid kids to sit on the bench, I'm sure they'd oblige.
Tom Taylor is bench player for the AB's, which by implication means he's most probably a first choice pick for both his NPC and Super side - so, he's definitely getting game time (we won't talk about Nonu - that's a different kettle fish altogether). If you're a bench player at youth (non-rep) level, then you're not getting much - if any - play time.

Times have changed. Being an AB isn't necessarily what it used to be. Just ask the guys who've gone overseas - there are a lot of them.
There is log jam of quality first-fives (I don't know about him being a second-five, although he could develop into a fine utility). So, if Tom Taylor wants to stay in NZ to chase that AB jersey good on him. But, he may need to weigh up what's best for his family (not sure of his situation, so correct me if I'm wrong) long term. For the moment his star is on the rise, but, it's not always going to be like that, and if he gets a serious injury a little later in his career, he may regret not taking up an offer elsewhere.

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  Reply # 891012 6-Sep-2013 16:48
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I can see a case for getting competitive sport out of schools (i.e. schools competing against other schools and sports teams), but I think physical education (learning sports and activities) should stay.

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  Reply # 891025 6-Sep-2013 17:05
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trig42: I went to a large Auckland boys state school over 20 years ago, but from talking to boys that go there now, not much has changed.

I was a boarder at the school, and when I started there in my third form, we were all told we HAD to participate in a summer and a winter sport. This freaked me out a little as I had come form a school that had no sports teams (quite a small school, quite remote) and I was not all that 'sporty'. More Geeky in fact I suppose.

My first term, I signed up for cricket (had, afterall, played backyard cricket, how hard could it be, right?)
It was pretty boring to be honest, but it got me out of Hostel on a Saturday, and I met some good fellas.

Winter term, I played basketball. That was much the same. enjoyed it for the social aspect, we didn't win much though.

Then I went to a rowing open day, and that was me. The next 4.5 years, that was pretty much my summer and winter sport - Made it all the way to 1st XIII, met some great friends and really enjoyed it. In my 7th form, as well as rowing, I played Rugby, Cricket, Basketball and whatever else was around. I was still not particularly sporty, and these sports were just played socially really, but I am really glad I did it.

The school had (and still has) a big emphasis on sport, but in the lower teams (luckily it is a big school, and there are lots of teams), there was no pressure to win win win, but the teachers coaching us always insisted we showed up for practice, and put an honest effort in.

I fully believe in my case, that I was much better off for having to participate in sport at school, and I did not know many there that did not participate. I think it just produces better rounded individuals at the end of the day.

Your experience represents what I think is a better model of sports in schools - if sport were to be kept. Although, it doesn't necessarily deal with the issue of benching players, or selection/rep squads.
The major obstacle to implementing compulsory sports participation is the cost of making something like that a reality. It may work in the state school you went to, but, I'm not so sure how well it would work other schools.
It's not easy grabbing a parent to coach a group of mis-fit teenagers - that's assuming one even volunteers (or even one who actually has a clue about coaching in general). In which case, the responsibility to take a team would then fall onto a teacher (results of which vary widely).
It's a possible solution I guess, but, the sheer logistics for it - I just don't know.

The rounded individuals thing, goes back to the idea of sport as a mechanism for building good character - in theory.
My experience, is that it's actually relatively rare to find good athletes who aren't self-seeking, or have an over-inflated view of themselves - even ignoring the antics of many "role-model" elite athletes.

I guess the question becomes whether or not sports is necessary for better rounded individuals?

Possibly a question to ask a certain demographic that performs disproportionately better scholastically, but not as well in the sporting arena.

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  Reply # 891032 6-Sep-2013 17:30
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Sport in schools is fine, provided it's optional or at least there are "non-conventional" ones which do not require athletic prowess. Not everybody has the innate desire or ability to run fast, jump high, throw things a long way...

Team work and having a good time is the more important thing to focus on.

People like myself had no chance of putting in a remotely interesting performance in any conventional sports, the compulsory participation in the annual "sports day" at high school consisted of sitting in the stands of QE2 stadium lob a shot-put a couple of meters, and walk back to the stands.

If there had been a lawn bowls tournament, well I could have had a reasonable chance at that, and at least would have enjoyed it.

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  Reply # 891050 6-Sep-2013 18:27
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Was tongue in cheek a bit, meaning we dumb our kids down and stop them being anybody in life as the state will look after them (over simplified I know)

Fair enough.

For what's worth, I think sports is a great means for getting people involved in a physical activity.

I suspect one of the main reasons SPARC gets government funding is to promote sport as a physical activity for the general populace - not just the elite minority, particularly as counter-measure against obesity. In that regard, I'd say they are failing miserably.

Children, especially boys, need to know where they fit in and team sports prepares them for working life. Sure it would be nice if they could all get a medal just for turning up but that penalizes the ones that are able and do put more effort in or are naturally talented, that's just the way life is. Once they get to work they will quickly be sorted into those that perform well and those that don't, that's ok we aren't all leaders, intellects etc but we each need to know where we fit in teaching us its ok to be mediocre doesn't help as they will find out later in life it wasn't true.

Except junior sport - in it's current form - doesn't necessarily prepare kids for life outside of school. As I mentioned in a different reply, it's debatable as to whether sports builds character.

I'm not one for medals/prizes, especially for team sports. I know many parents are into that, but, it's just rewarding an elite few who wouldn't have accomplished anything without their team mates.

The thing with junior sport, is that it's effectively an illusion. You're 11 or 12 year old superstar athlete isn't actually that good. They may look good because the competition they're involved in artificially tilts the balance in their favour. The illusion gets shattered somewhat when they get to college, because sometimes age (or in rugby - weight) restrictions are no longer maintained.
Even the top 1st XV team in the country looks good on the back of a cotton-wooled competition that restricts them from playing against (often much) stronger opposition in the local area.

Sadly, the illusion (some prefer the word 'dream'), convinces certain chunks of society that's the only meal ticket in town. I'm pretty sure the demand for elite superstar rugby players will never outstrip that for doctors.

If kids/parents (and sometimes expectations of parents is over powering the child) don't want ton play sport then that's fine, once again why penalise those that do just provide different activities that challenge the kids.

Too often with the current system children (boys in particular) have no idea where they fit in or have no way of getting rid of energy they struggle with who they are. Look at the male youth suicide rates in NZ which are the highest in the developed world, we need to let boys be boys and kids be kids and sports including team sports, are ways for them to not only learn how to fit in to life but also show and give them confidence in themselves, to often in today's society we teach them their rights but not responsibilities  which further confuses them once they are thrown into adult life.

Which is why many parents opt to send their hormone-exploding boys to boarding schools. The manner in which sport is applied is one I tend to agree with (from a previous reply).
However, the majority of state schools don't operate sport in the same manner. It's very exclusive - which it shouldn't be.

Personally, I have my doubts about the negative impact of removing sports from schools.
It would still be available via clubs etc - the pre-college club sporting scene seems quite effective, in relation to college sports. Not forgetting, many sports already operate outside of colleges anyway.

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  Reply # 891059 6-Sep-2013 18:51
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LookingUp: IMHO TEAM sports are very important to instil an understanding of:

* Teamwork, and how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts if everyone does their bit

* Getting on with others even if you don't particularly like them


Sport in general is a useful life lesson on:

* Effort and reward (for those that think most winners are "naturals" read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)

Ah, yes. I came across that book (sort of) once, when discussing the unfair nature of age-graded competitions. It can really suck to be born in late December if you do sports. Conversely, lucky you if you're born in early January.

* Winning and losing

Having been a "manager" in various roles over the last 20 years I've always found it interesting to compare the backgrounds of those that work well in a team versus those who don't. My observation is that the team players tend to be those that grew up playing in teams. (queue discussion on whether this is because it's their nature to want to be part of a team, or whether it's a skill they've learnt)

From my own personal experience, what builds character most in sport is losing, and how one deals with it.

Winning often, can actually be bad - in my experience. I find, winning tends to raise expectations. It's an awesome feeling when you're part of a team that's winning a lot, but, then it becomes an expectation. Almost a right. Being a coach of a winning team isn't at easy as one would think. Losing is great way to bring equilibrium to a team's culture.

Now, having said that. It's more than likely you're average geeky/computer type (especially the "elite" ones :) ) have little, if any meaningful experience in a sports team environment. So, from that perspective - yes, I think sports would be an excellent means for them to develop some (any) team skills - assuming they don't get benched (which they normally are, so....).

Then again, geeks tend to relate better to other geeks. I mean, whether geeks work well in teams or not, they're still the ones that create the Google's/Facebook's/Microsoft's/Apple's of this world, and I'm certain those creations wouldn't exist without some semblence of teamwork.

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  Reply # 891076 6-Sep-2013 19:48
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jonherries: So, your hypothesis is that removing sport from school will take away the elitism associated with sports?

No. The elitism will still exist, just at the local club.

Physical education would still be taught/practiced in schools - I would probably push for mandatory involvement (hypothetically speaking - if I had the power). PE is optional in some schools past Year 10/Form 4.

There was an article recently that talked about taking academic streaming away from schools because that creates/represents academic elitism.

Yeah, that sort of thing cracks me up.

"So coach, how's that mixed-ability 1st XV doing this season?"

I wonder if the problem isn't sporting or academic achievement per se, but how these can create elitism.

Philosophically speaking life is a competition (if you believe in evolution and natural selection), and so humans are naturally inclined to compete. Humans are also unique in providing and valuing compassion and fairness, which kinda balances the competition.

Perhaps teaching people how they can use their "eliteness" to help others is a better approach, than banning sport?


Firstly, I'm not proposing that sport be banned completely. Just that it be moved out of schools and into clubs.

The problem with many sports, is how they are promoted. Sport is marketed basically on the idea of selling a dream. It's just hero worship really. Thus, when kids and parents buy into it, they're buying into the dream (or illusion). 
So, the standard promotional tactic for a lot of sports is to get their stars out into the public - "giving something back to the sport". Whether or not those stars really want to be out in public promoting said sport is another story.
In essence sport is being sold as an elite achievement - "look kids, you can be just like me...".

It's true, people like underdogs. But, people like winners more. It's no small coincidence that rugby is still regarded as our national sport.

Anyway, that dream/illusion is basically the main thing that drives kids to participate/stay in sport - especially when they hit college.

It's also the very same thing that pushes them out.

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  Reply # 891088 6-Sep-2013 20:10
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School is the only place many people will ever come in contact with playing sport, so no I don't think it should be removed. It is also a tool for physical activity as it is a motivator. Physical activity without sport is not easy to get kids to do. Sport also teach people about how to win and lose, and to communicate under pressure etc.

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  Reply # 891094 6-Sep-2013 20:30
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surfisup1000: To give less academic yet sporty kids some pride and self confidence.  School is not a one sized fits all thing.

If you only concentrate on academics you risk losing the interest of sporty kids. 

Personally I think it is very important and you see the look of joy on kids faces who do well at school sports. 

The pride and self-confidence story I'm quite familiar with. Thanks.

I certainly wouldn't advocate concentrating only on academic achievement. Let's not ignore the contribution that culture and the arts can make during those formative years. Plus physical activity/education would still be taught.

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  Reply # 891101 6-Sep-2013 20:47
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wongtop: I can see a case for getting competitive sport out of schools (i.e. schools competing against other schools and sports teams), but I think physical education (learning sports and activities) should stay.


PE classes could still have sport in addition to other activities, but everyone would be involved. No benching. PE teachers (generally) operate on a different mandate than coaches (i.e. student participation is required).

Good plan.

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