Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Olympics

South Korea has crazy sports parents, too

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Lest you think an overemphasis on sports and developing your toddler into a future pro is an American phenomenon, check out what’s being going on in South Korea since the world ascendancy of skater Kim Yu-Na, the first from that nation to win Olympic figure skating gold. It apparently looks a lot like what happened there after Pak Se-Ri because the first South Korean to win the LPGA U.S. Women’s Open, in 1998, and after Park Tae-whan became the first South Korean to win the Olympic swimming gold, at Beijing in 2008.

From JoongAng Daily, in a story titled, “A life of sacrifice for ‘Kim Yu-Na kids’ and parents:

After skating star Kim Yu-na’s glorious win at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, figure skating fever seized the nation, particularly among young children who look up to Kim – and, more importantly, parents hoping to raise the “next Kim Yu-na.”

The adults watching their kids learn to skate at Lotte World Ice Rink in Jamsil-dong, southern Seoul, one weekday afternoon late last month testified to the latter phenomenon.

“The topic of conversation these days among mothers who have girls my daughter’s age is whether she skates or not. It seems that mothers whose kids haven’t yet started to learn how to skate feel alienated,” said Shon Hye-eun, 33, whose 7-year-old daughter was out on the rink.

In fact, the kids started coming “about two years ago when Kim began to stand out at international skating events, and it reached a climax during the Vancouver Olympics,” said Yeo Seung-hee, director at the National Skating Association of Sport for All, who also serves as a figure skating instructor at the Lotte World facility.

Currently, some 80 children are enrolled in skating classes at Lotte World, more than double the number of students a year ago, Yeo said.

The resident experts in the article point out the newfound obsession in terms of Korean culture. But I’m not so sure it’s uniquely Korean. Especially when they get to the part about parents being inspired by fathers who hardball-trained their kids.

“The phenomenon is a complex product of the tendency for Koreans to get on bandwagons easily when something or someone receives much outside recognition – for example, athletes who win international competitions – and Korean parents’ overzealous enthusiasm for educating their children,” said Chung Hee-joon, a professor in the department of sports and leisure at Dong-A University.

After Pak’s success, scores of Korean parents signed their children up for golf lessons, giving birth to an entire generation of Korean golfers known as “the Pak Se-ri kids,” including Shin Ji-yai, now one of the top female golfers in the world. Shin’s father is also known for his energetic support for his daughter.

Similarly, “Park Tae-hwan kids” recently packed local swimming pools after that 20-year-old swimmer clinched the gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Maybe the issue isn’t culture, but something else. If this expert is correct, you can’t become a culture of obsessed sports parents until you reach a certain level of prosperity.

“What is noteworthy is that the phenomenon triggered by Pak Se-ri became formalized in the late 1990s when Korea reached a certain level of success in terms of economic development,” Chung said.

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Written by rkcookjr

April 6, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Canadian kids don't care their hockey team lost

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With all the alleged gnashing of teeth and rending of sweaters in Canada over its Olympic hockey team’s 5-3 loss to the United States on home ice in Vancouver Sunday night, I would like to take you back to a post of mine from August 2009 about a study showing that Canadian kids care less and less about the presumed national sport.

To be so self-referential I’m going to get inside my own mind like John Malkovich in “Being John Malkovich,” here is what I wrote earlier about Canadian youth and their relationship with hockey. The survey, by University of Lethbridge (Alberta) sociology professor Reginald Bibby, was done in the context of the possibility of southern Ontario becoming the seventh Canadian market for the National Hockey League.

According to Bibby’s survey of 5,500 Canadian teens, the interest in the NHL fell to 35 percent in 2008 from 45 percent in 1992. The decline in Ontario was 40 to 28, with only 20 percent of Toronto teens following the league. …  Of those teens whose parents, and themselves, were born in Canada, 40 percent followed the NHL. Of those teens who were born (and whose parents were born) outside of Canada, only 20 percent were interested in the NHL. Those non-native born teens were mostly likely to follow the NBA (31 percent) and soccer (30 percent).

Blake Lambert of the Faster Times cited Bibby’s research in creating his own reaction to Canada’s Olympic loss: “Canada Loses in Hockey. So What?”

In my corner of downtown Toronto, which is home to immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, I have yet to see a single child play street hockey. At the middle school up the street, basketball and soccer are fashionable; cricket is even a summertime pursuit at a park northeast of my home.

In the Toronto area — not just the city, but the suburbs, too — 45.7 percent of all residents are foreign-born as of the 2007 Canadian census, up from 43.7 percent five years previously. In Vancouver, where fans are presumably feeling the pain a little more because the last American goal was scored by Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler, 39.6 percent of all residents are foreign-born. English is the primary household language of 54.1 percent of Canadians, while the other official language, French, is at only 1.2 percent. Outdistancing the francophones are Chinese (all dialects), 8.1 percent, Italian, 3.7 percent, and Punjabi, 2.6 percent.

[youtubevid id=”w4_am9yXuDM”]

A Punjabi sports show, based in Vancouver.

In the whole of Canada, 20 percent — one out of five — residents was born somewhere other than under the Maple Leaf flag. The government itself says Canada’s growth is almost wholly reliant on immigration. By comparison, the United States has a foreign-born population of 12.6 percent.

Certainly it would be ridiculous to dismiss out-of-hand the agony many Canadians feel over their loss to the United States. However, by the numbers, it looks like hockey in Canada is going to evolve culturally like basketball in my native Indiana.

The sport will always be a strong part of the culture. But as time goes on, as the population changes, and as children are given more choices for sports and activities than their forebears, the intensity of the pain of having a loser in “our” game will be lesser for youth than it is for middle-agers, who remember the glory days when a single sport was everything.

Written by rkcookjr

February 22, 2010 at 2:20 pm

2016 Olympics in Chicago: Make me an offer, international community

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As I write this, we are only two hours away from finding out whether my city, Chicago, will be awarded the 2016 Olympics. However, I want to get the jump on other locals by taking your outrageous offer to use what I have to make your experience in Chicago — assuming of course, we get the games, more pleasant and profitable (for me).

First, my house. Please rent it! I have a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house located near Midway Airport, two suburban commuter lines and a bus line that will get you to Midway and the El located therein. Also, being on the south end of the city (four blocks outside the city limits, to be exact), I’m convenient to proposed Olympic stadium, which will be located on the south side. For those of you from Ireland, I’m in the center of a lot of ethnic Irish, judging by all the laborers’ business cards I get with a shamrock on them. For those of you from Muslim countries, my location also is in an Arabic enclave close to mosques, restaurants and the Muslim bakery that makes what is known as South Side bread.

Starting bid: $750 per day.

Next, my van. Two vans to be exact. My wife and I (and my two children who will be 19 and 17 in 2016) can drive you anywhere you need to go. We know all the shortcuts, although in some of them I would recommend locking your doors. The vans can fit five adults comfortably, and at least 10 uncomfortably.

Starting bid: $150 per day on retainer, $10 per mile.

Next, my children. My oldest son, who will be 19, is an aspiring photographer, and travels everywhere by Rollerblade. My oldest daughter, who will be 17, loves animals and can pet-sit if needed. I also will have a son who will be 13 and a daughter who will be 11 and can handle multiple tasks. If your country has no child labor laws, then neither do we!

Starting bid: $100 per child, per hour.

Contact me today, before the rush!

Written by rkcookjr

October 2, 2009 at 10:36 am

Priorities, by Colorado Springs

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The city of Colorado Springs, Colo., is in a budget crunch, and one proposed way to get out of it is draconian cuts in its Department of Parks of Recreation — including eliminating all adult and youth sport programs. In this, the city has the enthusiastic assent of the local Gazette. Twice.

Meanwhile, the city is also struggling to come up with the $27.5 million loan it needs to cover its cost of the $53 million booty that got the U.S. Olympic Committee to keep its headquarters in Colorado Springs. The city says it’s just a matter of market timing, and it will get done. This was a deal that got the enthusiastic assent of the local Gazette.

So in Colorado Springs, the Olympic administrator will get its money, but the local future Olympians may well not. This is not a way to, as one prominent local organization might put it, focus on the family.

Written by rkcookjr

February 20, 2009 at 4:58 pm