November 30, 2010
Making the Case for Youth Sports Funding Part II by Steve Horan
As the economy continues to sputter we are seeing youth sports budgets cut or eliminated in the school and community setting. This is the second in a series on making the case for youth sports funding. In Part 1 we suggested that we can be stronger advocates for youth sports funding in terms of positive youth development and community benefit. The next step is to define and state the life skills we aim to teach in youth sports.
Positive Life Skills- Positive life skills are those skills everyone needs to develop into healthy, ethical, caring, and responsible people. In the context of youth sports, we have the opportunity to help young athletes learn many different kinds of positive life skills. In the Positive Youth Sports Model we identify seven life skill sets which we can help young athletes develop through sports. These are not the only life skills worth teaching to young athletes, but they are a start. The list includes: School Engagement, Healthy Living, Positive Character, Self Direction, Teamwork, Leadership, Community Engagement
Stating the What We Teach - Defining and stating the life skills we teach puts us in better position to make our case for youth sports funding. For example, we should be able to say: Our sports program is worth funding because we deliver a high return on investment in terms of positive youth development and community benefit.
School Engagement. We teach our student athletes the importance of making the grade in school by setting academic goals, showing consistent attendance, demonstrating respect, fulfilling all of their assignments, and graduating on time.
Healthy Living. We teach our student athletes to practice healthy habits of nutrition, training, rest, risk avoidance, and stress management.
Positive Character. We teach our student athletes the importance of positive character including honor, spirit, courage, perseverance, and resilience.
Self Direction. We teach our student athletes the importance of self direction including self-motivation, self-initiative, self-discipline, emotional self-restraint, and self-directed learning.
Teamwork. We teach our student athletes positive teamwork including commitment, responsibility, contribution, collaboration, and flexibility.
Leadership. We teach our student athletes how to become positive leaders leaders by modeling the way, working with others to get things done, inspiring each other when things get tough, promoting team unity, and reaching out to help a teammate in need.
Community Engagement. We teach our student-athletes the importance of giving back to their community by becoming involved in community service as individuals and as a team.
If we do not feel comfortable or authentic in describing our program in these terms (or similar terms), we are not alone. It is in the nature of all organizations, not just youth sports programs, that we do not always live up to our aspirations. You can get started by writing down your own vision of the life skills you aim to teach as a coach or program director. Then engage your colleagues in a discussion about what you aim to teach as a program.
Check back next week for more great information on this topic.