Youth Sports

Pure Michigan Sports

Back to School (Recruiting)

 Posted on: January 11 2017
Youngsters who are involved in sports, we hope, are involved for the right reasons: Learning teamwork, staying active, honing social skills. A few are athletically gifted enough that they can look forward to a career at the next level, be it high school, college or beyond. Whether you work with youngsters in camps, in AAU-type organizations or at school, the process of playing with one eye on a scholarship is a stressful one. First, the facts, courtesy the NCAA: Eight million kids are participating in high school sports. Only 480,000 of them (about 6 percent) will eventually compete in collegiate athletics at an NCAA program. And only 56 percent of those athletes will receive “some level” of scholarship assistance, and that amount averages less than $11,000 per student-athlete. And remember, many scholarships are “partial” scholarships, especially when you are dealing with the so-called Olympic sports of track and field, soccer and the like. Even baseball often...

No Excuse Zone

 Posted on: December 19 2016
It may be holiday time, but for many in youth sports, it’s coming up on tournament time. During holiday breaks many teams, whether they’re affiliated with a school or with an AAU-type organization, use the time away from school for traveling tournaments. So now may be a good time to listen to one of soccer’s legends, Mia Hamm, on how parents should handle their kids in sports. In a speech recently in Colorado Springs, she offered this bit of advice: “Resist the urge to make excuses for your kids.” Mia Hamm is now a sports mom herself, and in that role hears other sports parents blame the refs, the coaches, even their kids’ teammates if Johnny or Mary doesn’t have a good game. “They look up to you,” she told the crowd. “They are so vulnerable after a defeat. They don’t need to hear, ‘Oh, my, if Suzie had just passed that ball to you.’ Or ‘If that ref had a clue. Somebody needs to talk to him.’&...

Everyone’s a Winner

 Posted on: December 12 2016
You know the drill: At youth tournaments, there are row upon rows of trophies, medals, etc. for everyone. Not just the members of the team that won, but EVERYONE. Because we want all the players to feel valued and to get a reward just for participating. Pittsburgh Steeler’s linebacker James Harrison famously railed against participation trophies, going as far as taking away his kids’ awards, saying he wanted them to earn their trophies. And now, add Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz to the list of those who want more of an effort from his players than just showing up. Earlier this season, after a particularly poor showing (his opinion) by his team in a basketball, game, Coach Walz blasted the “participation trophy” mentality of players. “We just live right now in a generation of kids that are coming through, everybody gets a damn trophy,” he said. “You finish last, you come home with a trophy. Are you kidding me? What’s...

You’re never too young…

 Posted on: November 7 2016
Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton has made headlines lately, not just for his play on the field, but for his complaints to the NFL Commissioner off the field. Newton, a strong and mobile quarterback, has been hit hard this season, with few if any penalties called for the hits. He’s said he “doesn’t feel safe” on the field anymore, an issue he and his team have brought up to Commissioner Roger Goodell. The continuing discussion on when, or if, football is ever played safety was brought up again in a recent article in The Atlantic. The article quotes Christopher Whitlow, chief of neuroradiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who wanted to see how head impact affects developing brains. His team studied male football players between ages 8 and 13 over the course of a season, recording “head impact data” using a Head Impact Telemetry System to measure force, which was correlated with video of games and practices. The findings, published...

Variety Is the Spice

 Posted on: October 27 2016
At the October NASC Market Segment Meetings, a lot of the talk among attendees was focused on keeping kids involved in sports. As we’ve noted, by the time young athletes hit early high school, participation drops dramatically and with an organization like NASC, kids playing sports is vital to keeping the organization, and the industry, growing.  A recent article on ESPNW takes the youth sports discussion one step further—why you want your young athlete to be involved in multiple sports in this day and age of sport specialization. The author, sports reporter (and sports mom) Michelle Smith, gives five reasons why it’s good for kids to play several sports, including fewer overuse injuries, less chance for emotional burnout, exposure to different kids and different roles and not putting all your sports eggs into one basket.   The final point is perhaps important in the discussion of keeping kids playing sports. “Playing only one sport limits your option...

Caring for the young athlete

 Posted on: October 10 2016
As a rights holder or event site manager, you are very familiar with the rules and regulations of holding an event, as well as the insurance and liability coverage that you need to follow to make sure the event goes off smoothly. As a matter of course, most events are required to have medical personnel on site, in case of injury. Often, the medical provider will also be listed as a sponsor of the event. But how do you know that the medical personnel on hand are the ones who can treat the young athlete? According to a 2014 ESPN sports poll, more than 87 percent of parents worry about their children getting hurt while playing sports. Injuries, from a knee scrape to more serious fractures and tears, are not uncommon in youth sports. Getting the proper treatment quickly is important, both for the athlete and for you as the event provider. In a recent ESPNW article, “Helping your athlete kids recover from injury the right way,” author (and mom) Sharon Van Epps shares a conver...

Do-it-yourself coverage

 Posted on: October 4 2016
If there is a universal complaint heard from many event organizers, it’s this one: “No one ever comes to cover my event.” You can fill in the blank as to who “no one” is—local newspaper, television stations, etc. Truth be told, it doesn’t matter who that media entity may be. There is a good chance, unless you’re holding a national or state championship or a huge community event (think marathon weekends), the media coverage is more than likely to be sparse. Why is this? The quick answer is, media doesn’t operate the way it used to. The longer answer is, most media outlets have fewer people feeding more media channels. That means whatever story they’ve been assigned to do, they have to contribute a report to the ‘traditional’ media (TV newscast, print newspaper) as well as to the website and social media channels. So they’re doing a lot more with one story. That leaves little time to cover several stories i...

Tragedy on the field

 Posted on: September 26 2016
We talk a lot in this space about the good that youth sports offers our kids, from exercise to discipline to life lessons. But students in northern Ohio were handed one life lesson this past weekend that we wish they didn’t have to learn at such a young age. Andre Jackson, a Euclid (Ohio) High School football player, died Sunday, following injuries he suffered during a Friday night football game. A junior fullback and outside linebacker, Jackson died after he was hurt during the school's game against Solon High School on a special teams play. Euclid High School head football coach Jeff Rotsky said the incident happened during a "completely normal" play. "It was a pooch kick," he said. "He was going for the ball, and their guys were going for the ball, and I think he got kicked or kneed." The school district said Jackson walked off the field after the play, went to the hospital, was examined and was later released. No cause of death has been determined as of now. Euclid High Sc...

Being a better sports parent

 Posted on: September 19 2016
We’ve quoted from a number of articles and columns talking about how coaches can better serve their athletes. Now, there’s an article (aimed at soccer parents, but applicable to just about anyone) on how parents can better serve their own kids. From the Institute for Soccer Parenting comes an article by former college and pro soccer player Skye Eddy Bruce, “Immediately Become a Better Soccer Parent by Asking This Question.” In the article, she talks about the ride home with her daughter after a loss. She starts the conversation by saying, “I love watching you play.” And then, the rest of the ride was filled with talk about what went right in the game, and what went wrong—talking, basically about the results. She admits in the article that she went about the conversation in the opposite way she feels she should have. “Instead of focusing on winning (or not winning) I should have been focused on development,” she said. After that, s...

The NFL is for kids, too

 Posted on: September 14 2016
With the NFL now in full swing this week, it’s a good time to highlight some of the initiatives the NFL has in place to get kids active and eating right. In fact, you may have seen one of these programs in action if you attended an NFL pre-season game this summer. Probably the most visible is the “NFL Play 60” program, which is really the umbrella title for several youth initiatives, including Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school program emphasizing good nutrition along with activity; NFL Punt, Pass & Kick, the long-time national skills competition for boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 15; and NFL Flag Football, a youth football league for boys and girls ages 5-17. NFL Flag Football partners with recreation commissions in cities around the country to form leagues—at last count, more than a thousand leagues across the country. The highlight of the year for many of these teams is playing at halftime during an NFL game—and many were able to do just tha...
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