I recently posted a story with the heading “A New Low in Youth Sports?” and I didn’t mean to suggest that everything was much better years ago in kids’ sports.
I was born in 1953. My beliefs are that some aspects of youth sports are better today, some are worse, and some are the same.
I’m simply going to post now about a couple of the positive changes.
By far the most positive change (and I imagine anyone who grew up decades ago and has a daughter, niece, or granddaughter who plays sports would probably agree): the opportunities for girls in sports since Title IX are so much better than when we were kids.
My local high school in CT did have some varsity sports for girls but there were not as many choices as there were for boys.
Furthermore, girls, for the most part, simply weren’t encouraged to play sports in the way they are today. A female friend and classmate who threw the ball a longer distance in our elementary school softball throw than most of the boys—and who was a terrific all-around athlete—was considered a “tomboy.”
I don’t think that term would be used today.
Another female friend and classmate who was a cheerleader in high school ultimately became a club golf champion as an adult and has run a number of marathons. She loves sports competition and if she had been born 20 years or later, I have no doubt what she would have pursued in high school.
A second very positive change from my perspective: a good friend of mine who had been a successful head JV coach for many years as well as being named a National Youth Coach of the Year (for the success of his travel teams) was picked to be the head varsity boys’ soccer at our local high school over 15 years ago.
He was 50 years old at the time—and is gay.
At the age of 66, he’s still going strong and no one has suggested he retire.
Given the types of discrimination that existed back in the day, do I think a 50-year-old openly gay man would have had the opportunity to be named a high school head varsity coach for the first time back then? There is no way that would have ever happened.