Thank you for the role you play in providing scholastic and youth sport athletes the opportunity to be active while also helping develop physical, social, and life skills in a fun environment through sports. Coaches, parents, administrators, officials, and others who schedule and facilitate sport in America play a vital role in developing our young people at a time when there are more and more choices that do not include physical activity. At a time in society when obesity continues to grow at epidemic proportions, you provide a means for a healthy lifestyle. Sustained participation in sport among youth means a healthier America, now and in the future. Your commitment to developing physical skills makes physical activity fun.
Reinforcing the importance of respect that results in sportsmanship extends beyond the field of play in a way that makes whole communities better. Think about all the untold good news of your athletes performing community service through their volunteer efforts. Your lessons influence behavior among your athletes that you may never witness. You are helping to develop the future, a future of hope that will be led by individuals who have learned so much about the value and importance of respect through sport under your direction.
Thank you for demanding the best from your athletes in practice, during competition, academically, and in the community. Parents and coaches in particular help reinforce the discipline that is necessary for athletes to successfully navigate their way through sport which has broader implications in every other aspect of life. Whether it’s arriving at practice and competitions on time or not getting enticed into trash talking, you are developing athletes in a way that will reach far beyond the sport.
When you help prepare your athletes and then let them compete with moderate guidance, you empower them to demonstrate mature decision making as individuals and as a team. For example, athletes who communicate with one another in the heat of competition rather than look to the sideline for answers from coaches, gain a greater sense of responsibility and ownership for their actions. Encouraging athletes to test their limits can result in mistakes and poor application of a skill. But that freedom to fail inspires young people to make smart, responsible choices when not under the control of a coach or parent. It illustrates the positive impact that sport has and demonstrates respect for the coaches, parents, the program, and the community.
It’s hard to imagine the world without sport…a world of empty playing fields and quiet gyms. But if not for you and countless others who dedicate themselves to young people, that is exactly what we would have. In the spirit of the season thank you for your commitment in helping to develop young people and communities through sport. Happy holidays.