Basketball on the Edge – The Tipping Point in Youth Sports

By: John O’Sullivan

“What happens to us parents and coaches,” I often get asked, “that turns us from sensible, relaxed people to stressed out adults roaming up and down sports sidelines and screaming at every play?”

It is a question I ponder a lot, especially as I often get to watch my young children’s games played side by side with “competitive” youth soccer games. The parents on our sideline look next door and ask me “what is going on over there, why are they freaking out?”

The other day over a cup of coffee, I discussed this question with my long time friend Paul, the father of 2 college-age athletes. We discussed what makes youth sports tip (the word used by Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Tipping Point) from a relaxed, child centered environment to the ultra-competitive, win at all costs one we see far too often these days. This environment contributes a great deal to the 70% dropout rate in youth sports by age 13, yet it persists, and continues to expand. Paul had some interesting insight.

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