I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how other countries operate their sports programs – and honestly I’m not sure we have the best ametuer athletic system for teens. Certainly we are the best when it comes to presenting pro sports and Olympic level programs.
But in Holland, they do not play sports in high schools or colleges. It is played in a club system which is sponsored by their local government – not in their school systems.
The benefits of this system are 1) All players can play on a team regardless of their level of play 2) Players have access to a competitive a sport team well after they turn 21 years of age 3) They play for the love of the game… they do not have to compete or showoff at an early age in order to secure the right spot, on the right team, so they can be seen by that college coach, to compete for a scholarship or to get into the right school. This type of pressure does not exist there as we know it. If they have pressure – it is the competitive desire to win – not get onto a college team.
It seems many of our kids play because they have to – not because they want to – and that is a shame.
In our pyramid system where only the best can move on to play as they get older – we are cutting girls from sports at the pre-teen or teenage years because they aren’t good enough to compete at a higher level – just at a time in their lives in which studies suggest they benefit the most from these activities. They have a better self-image, self esteem, less likely to get pregnant or become drug and alcohol dependant. Read this article that supports this argument by the NY Times
Whether here or abroad, when our Dutch and International staff introduce our campers to a new way of training – it is positive – it is refreshing – and reenergizes a players desire and motivation to play the game. Because players recognize that they can play the game for fun.
My belief is, when you love something – you will excel at it.
Enjoy your sport. It’s awesome.