John Tauer Ph.D.

Goal Posts

The Problem With Youth Sports?

WOSPs: Well-intentioned, Overinvolved Sports Parents!

Posted Jun 14, 2015

As we begin a new summer, millions of kids jubilantly return to the soccer fields, basketball courts, and baseball and softball diamonds. Sadly, their dreams of fun in the sun are all too often dampened by an unlikely culprit: Parents.

In my new book, Why Less is More for WOSPs (Well-Intentioned, Overinvolved Sports Parents): How to be the Best Sports Parent You Can Be, I discuss the origin of youth sports, the goals of youth sports, and the motivational pros and cons of involved parents. Throughout the book, I weave stories from youth, high school, college, and pro sports with research studies and motivational theory. 

Each week this summer, I will provide an overview of one of the eleven chapters of the book, WOSPs. Questions we will consider include why parents get too involved in sports, what are the negative effects of parental involvement from a motivational persepctive, and how parents can help youth sports accomplish their intended goals.

Too often, we read stories of parents attacking referees, berating coaches, or belittling their children. As egregious as these actions are, the more frequent problem occurs when WOSPs let their good intentions go astray, subsequently ruining their children's experiences in sports.

Why have youth sports gone from unstructured, informal play to hyper-structured activities in overscheduled children's lives where parents micromanage the games to the point where many kids lose their love for the game, burn out, quit, or all of the above? These are some of the many questions I am excited to share with you this summer as we examine the psychology of WOSPs.