Be the change in youth sports

By From page A12 | March 30, 2014

Considering the attention paid to the Davis High School volleyball coaching assignment and the impossible task handed to the school board, I was looking forward to an Enterprise review of John O’Sullivan’s “Changing the Game” presentation on Friday, March 21, sponsored by the Davis Parent University. Kudos to the University parent organization — it was worthy and timely program.

Not that O’Sullivan is an expert in our town’s political balance between youth sport coaching and coached, but he had some things to say that hit the mark. One of them was what might have been a better title for his book — and it’s what he recommended every parent and coach provide as the main message to their athlete — the six words “I love to watch you play.”

Delivering consistently winning results demands focus and dedication. So when the question was raised “My son would like to play more than one sport at the high school, but is afraid of reprisal from his coach,” the coaching panel had little to say that would convince me that the student-athlete’s concern is misplaced. John’s answer to this is “winning is not the goal — effort is everything … kids don’t remember who won” … read — parents/coaches lighten up.

John pointed to the need for cooperation and transparency in meeting the high standard of doing what is right for the youth at the expense of competition for players (their families) and the programs they support. “Some coaches pay lip service” to these higher goals, said John O’Sullivan.

In closing remarks, Davis Legacy Soccer Club Director Ashley Yudin put it to the audience “It’s up to you to change the game.” I would agree. The world of coaching and administration of club/youth/high school sports is not going to get it more than mostly right for quite some time. Don’t be surprised if the selflessness prescribed by John O’Sullivan is not reflected in your sports program. But, be that change, look for it, demand it — it will change the game.

Scott Ragsdale


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