Children’s Sports vs. Fair Play…are we losing focus?

June 18th, 2009 5:14pm

What do we teach our children when we push them too far in sports? What principles of sportsmanship and athleticism do we really want to impact them the most?

I watched as my 8 year old daughter once again was relegated to outfield. She stood, bored and disinterested as she once again was given no choice. Her once bubbly attitude upon arriving at her first softball practice had been replaced with bored indifference as she accepted the inevitable…she wasn’t going to get to try anything new. That was only for the potential “all stars” of the team.

Flash to a similar scene of 4 and 5 year old basketball. All the boys on the team watch with unsurprised expressions on their faces as their one “all star” player once again gets control of the ball and runs up the court to make a basket. The coach cheers and the rest of the team slowly walk back to their positions…places where their main purpose is to stand and watch their one teammate dominate the game.

These are familiar scenes to most parents with young children in sports. If your child is not an “all star” potential, they oftentimes don’t get much playing experience. Of course, you pay the same price for them to play as the “all star” players parents do but your child will not get near the playing time. Parents of these child protege’s often push their kids to the breaking point to make sure they shine. Oftentimes, these are the parents you hear from the sidelines swearing at the referees or issuing profanities at the poor coach who is adamantely wishing he never volunteered for this job.

If you are tired of these repeated scenarios, then there is a place for you and your children. A new program has emereged called i9Sports to answer this call from parents everywhere to encourage healthy competition while making sure everyone gets a chance to play equally. According to their website, i9Sports advocate 5 principles of sportsmanship which are…

  • Funthe primary reason children play sports is to have fun. They love mastering new skills, developing friendships, and healthy competition
  • Inclusivityeveryone’s right to play and have fun. Our program is for everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, or ability level. No child will ever be excluded by a tryout, be made to feel like they aren’t good enough because of a league draft, or be cut from a team. We do our best to ensure that each child gets equal playing time.
  • safetya child’s safety is paramount. As such, we background check each of the adults supervising your children and hire trained officials for each game to ensure that “safe play” is enforced.
  • good sportsmanshiplearning to play the game is only half the equation. Helping children develop character is the other half. The value of teaching children teamwork, fair play and good sportsmanship goes far beyond the game.
  • everyone is a winnerHealthy competition is a natural instinct. However, the “win-at-all-costs” mentality so prevalent in youth sports today is not only destructive to team morale, it severely undermines individual self-esteem. We believe in a healthy competitive enviornment that allows everyone an opportunity to make the most of their abilities.

According to Jill Phillips of Fishman Public Relations, “Every i9 Sports parent signs a Parental Pledge, which commits them to be positive and encourage good sideline behavior. Parents also attend an orientation meeting where the program director discusses the i9 Sports Parental Pledge, league philosophy and expectations.” Jill further added that “most games and practices are only held on weekends, so children can focus on academics and spending time with their family during the week.”

If you are as intrigued by this new wave of sportsmanship oriented athletics as I was, than you too should contact them for more information. The program originated in Tampa Bay, Fl but has since established franchises all across the country in over 25 states with over 100,000 participants since 2003. You can visit their website at for more information and to find the location nearest you. You can also contact James Smith, owner of i9 Sports in Chandler, at 480-726-1613.

For more info: contact James Smith, owner of i9 Sports in Chandler, at 480-726-1613 or visit their website at