I've always loved sports.
I've been fortunate to coach my kids on local "Y" teams for years.
My son starts his summer "U16" basketball season today.
At the start of every season I always try to remember something my wife told me years ago: "kids don't ruin sports, parents and adults ruin sports for the kids."
Both of my kids seem to enjoy exercise. They seem to love the challenge of sports and the positive effect that it has on their self confidence and emotional well being.
Many adults "pick" their kids sports.
Many adults insist that their kids play the same sport year round.
Unfortunately, many kids either burn-out or don't have the skill set to continue to advance in their one sport, as they get older, and then appear lost, as do their parents who were trying to live vicariously through their kids and their kids accomplishments.
My son has played baseball, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, golf, soccer, football, ultimate Frisbee, ran for his schools track team, earned a black belt in karate and recently took up weight lifting as well.
My daughter has also done karate, played basketball, soccer, volleyball, done gymnastics, is an accomplished equestrian and goes out for long distance runs almost every day.
Neither of my kids may ever get headlines in the newspaper or get a college scholarship but they love to exercise.
Both have narrowed their interests as they've gotten older but continue to be open to new challenges and appear to be very resilient. Every time they get knock down by something in sports, school or emotionally, they seem to be able to get back up.
That's a great thing.
Youth coaches: please have someone video tape you in action. If you're on the bench yelling and screaming at your players, if your players are on the bench with their heads down and/or crying, PLEASE re-evaluate what you are doing. If your players are not looking forward to the next season, no matter how skilled or un-skilled that player might be, or does not ask to be on a team coached by you in the future, you are failing in your job as a youth coach.
Parents: let your kids follow their passion. Don't force them to pick a sport that you want them to pick. Support and encourage them, skilled or not, winning or losing.
Sports and exercise will have a positive effect on kids as long as WE don't ruin it for them.