Youth and high school sports have been put on hold because of the devastating Coronavirus global health pandemic, and as I write this, we still do not definitively know when we will be getting back to sports. However, when the time comes, I am drawn to the idea that this break from youth sports presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to do things better upon its return. To quote Joni Mitchell, "don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you got til it's gone.” Because youth sports are now gone, many people are starting to understand their true value as tools for social, emotional, and physical development. No one misses screaming at referees, treating their opponents poorly, or complaining about playing time. They miss the chance to compete, the feeling of pride when watching their kid take the field, the emotional boost from being a part of a team, coaches who believe in them more than they believe in themselves. This break from sports has sharpened our vision and has allowed us to see what is important.
As we return to Youth Sports, it is critical Coaches have the skills to deal with the social and emotional needs of our athletes as they emerge from the trauma of COVID-19. Make sure Coaches, Athletes, Parents Officials take advantage of these resources.
In a book called The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath talk about the power of creating a defining moment that marks a dividing line between Old You and New You. I am drawn to the idea of using "getting back to sports" as a defining moment for the youth sports ecosystem.
Getting back to sports is an opportunity to reimagine why we play, why we sign our kids up, and why we coach. It is a chance to say, "from now on, we choose to do this better." It is a chance to recognize that youth and high school sports teach character and valuable life lessons to kids.