In the past decade children's sports have become more intensely organized -- by adults. And many kids are beginning to specialize in a single sport as early as age 6. Why? Often to increase their chances of landing a college scholarship or turning pro. Yet, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, fewer than 1 in 35 male high school basketball players will play college hoops; only 1 in 200 high school baseball players will reach the major league. "Making it to the highest level requires more than just practice," says Fred Engh, author of Why Johnny Hates Sports (Avery). "It takes a highly competitive personality, a love for the sport, and incredible natural talent."
Still, a 2008 survey by the National Alliance for Youth Sports found that 74 percent of parents have seen a coach yell at a child for making a mistake, promoting a do-or-die ethic. "Coaches think success is winning the championship," says Engh. "But what should matter is that kids are learning teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship."How Kids Are Losing Out
It's inevitable that your child will have to go head-to-head with others. Sometimes it'll be healthy fun; other occasions may be tough or even painful. But, in the end, knowing how to face competition honestly and with a good attitude can set kids up for a happy, fulfilling life -- the best victory of all.