Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Children are cheating, conniving little snots

with 5 comments

Often, people complaining about the excesses of adults in youth sports hearken back to some halcyon days when children organized their own play. And how that play was fair to all, with everyone getting plenty of playing time, having lots of fun, and joining for laughs and good-natured noogies at the malt shop afterward.

Uh, no. Adults can be assholes, but children can be ruthless. And I can cite more than my own personally observed examples to prove that.

A survey by The Cricket Foundation and the Marlyebone Cricket Club (the self-proclaimed world’s most famous cricket club) found 54% of the approximately 1,000 eight- to 16-year-olds survey witnessed bad sportsmanship. Not once. But in every single game they play.

No surprise with anyone with one of these in the house, but 63% of 14-year-olds report bad sportsmanship every game, leading all ages.

From the Guardian in London:

Among examples of bad sportsmanship cited by those questioned were people pretending to be hurt, punching, kicking, and swearing. One child told researchers: “Boys in school playing rugby pulled a boy to the ground and stood on his knee so he couldn’t score a try.” Another spoke of “being hit by a team member in a hockey game at school in order for them to score.” And a third said: “A boy threw a snooker ball at the other boy he was playing against because the other boy was winning.”

I don’t care that this survey was from Great Britain. Plenty of other research has found that kids in the good ol’ U.S. of A. have been conniving little shits for years, and they’re getting more conniving over time.

But why? Maybe it isn’t all the kids’ fault. Maybe kids are ruthless BECAUSE they’re around adults who are assholes. Specifically, the assholes in their house. More from the Guardian:

Half of parents admit that it is their responsibility to deal with their child’s unfair play, while 28% said it was down to the coach.

So half of parents believe that it ISN’T their responsibility to deal with their child’s unfair play. And at least some of them thinks it’s someone’s responsibility to deal with it, even if it isn’t their own. What’s up with the 22% of parents who didn’t assign any responsibility whatsoever?

I don’t know if what the chicken-and-egg relationship is: whether kids are born little bad sports (a thought that’s occured to anyone with a 2-year-old) and their parents to unteach that behavior, or whether kids are born good and learn to be bad by watching their moral-relativist parents. Interestingly, the cricket survey found that 72% of kids thought unfair play was “cheating,” and only 4% thought pro athletes who cheated were “cool,” so even if some kids cheat, they at least feel a little guilty about it.

[youtubevid id=”Y-Elr5K2Vuo”]

“Who taught you how to cheat like that?” “YOU, DAD! I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, OK!”

The studies that find more children getting more comfortable with more cheating than previous generations is that the growing population of little snots is coming from upper middle-class families, who use cheating and bad sportsmanship to give themselves (or, if it’s the parents, their kids), an advantage in getting on the team, into college, etc.

If that’s true, then the growth religion is not Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism or Zoroastriansim: it’s consequentialism, the fancy, philosophical way of saying, “The ends justify the means.”


Written by rkcookjr

April 25, 2010 at 9:31 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Bob,

    I don’t know about other parents, but I feel it is both the coaches and MY responsibility to stop such conduct immediately. My son taunted another player after a big hit. Not only did his coach yank him right then and chew him out – he got it in spades from me after the game. As a result he learned a valuable lesson – that behavior like that will not be tolerated and why. He is a better player and person because of the swift response.

    I hope I am not the exception…but maybe I am and that is sad.


    April 26, 2010 at 10:54 am

  2. I agree, it falls on both the parent and the coach. However, it becomes extremely difficult for one if the either isn’t reinforcing that message, moreso for the coach if the parent doesn’t seem to care. Good on you (and your child’s coach) for saying something to your child. As a practical point, I’ve also found that youth players who concentrate on their taunting (or complaining about the refs) tend to forget about actually, you know, playing the game.

    Bob Cook

    April 26, 2010 at 11:14 am

  3. My own observations about child rearing in general these days is that most parents are wimps. They don’t want to be the “bad guy” in the eyes of their children and instead let bad behavior go for the “sake of their relationship”. Excessive permissive parenting is rampant.

    Please. These parents are not doing their kids any favors by not setting rules and guidelines for good behavior. And if parents are so insecure as to think their kids won’t love them anymore because they chewed them out, they still have some serious growing up to do.


    April 26, 2010 at 11:28 am

  4. We have been lucky to have quality coaches where I live. Plus the coach ran his butt off at the next 5 practices. I think he just caught up in the macho posturing that kind of comes at his age. To quote Barney Fife – ‘Nipped it in the bud’.


    April 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

  5. Right on – being overly permissive just sets your kids up for failure as well a giving them an attitude of entitlement that is not deserved.


    April 26, 2010 at 11:38 am

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