Playing to Survive: The Difference in What  American Children Learn in Youth Sports vs Other Countries

As we travel around the world and visit other countries, we are exposed to different cultures and ways of life than our own. There are countries that suffer from day to day just praying they can survive another hour.

Other countries may be somewhat richer, but have a different set of core values they instill in their children. Some say America is exceptionally spoiled. Especially our offspring. Most of the outside world would agree.

The overabundance of material possessions and programs directed toward our poor make our country one of the richest places to be on Earth. This, many believe, has made our kids soft when it comes to sports and what they learn from them. Below are three reasons they may be right.

Protect Yourself at All Times

When was the last time you visited a pee wee football game? Soccer? Basketball? What was one of the first things you noticed? Almost every child there had an adult representative. Sometimes it was a parent. Other times, another family member or family friend. Even those without a representative are usually looked after by one of the coaching staff.

With all the adult supervision there are two things that are always kept track of. One is safety. The other we will discuss shortly. In the U.S., safety, depending on the sport, can mean that players have the right equipment, such as mouth guards and helmets, or that they follow rules that keep others and themselves from getting hurt.

While this is a good lesson to learn, safety has a different meaning for children playing sports in some other countries. In countries like Ethiopia or Brazil, safety while running for a touchdown could mean making sure a predator doesn’t see you as a meal on the go.

In a place like the Soviet Union or Nigeria, playing it safe in youth sports could mean that you play below your skill level so that you don’t draw unwanted attention from thugs or drug cartels to yourself or your family.

Fairness is Relative

As we continue to watch our young ones play their hearts out on the court or field, the other subject parents, coaches, and referees pay close attention to is the fairness of the game. There are some parents that have the ability to morph into super ninja monsters if they believe there was a bad call.

Especially if it involves their child. As things go, sometimes the call is fair. Sometimes, it’s not, but the men and women involved in pee wee sports are seldom guilty of throwing a game. So, our children learn to gracefully accept the fairness or lack of through the natural sequence of living a life as an athlete.

It’s a little different story the farther east you travel. If you take a trip to Japan, for instance, you are liable to learn that how fair youth sports are to you depends on how much your parents make or what bloodline you are from. In Ireland, the fairness of a game may depend on the mood of the toughest player in the game. Fairness is relative to where you live or travel to.

Survival of the Fittest

This is where much of the world believes America has lost the battle with its youth. In the world of U.S. youth sports, we have the mentality that everyone’s a winner, thus everyone should be rewarded regardless of how much or how little effort they put in.

It is the opinion of many that this not only negates the contributions of the most dedicated students but creates a false sense of entitlement for children who do not participate as much or as well. So, when these children enter adulthood, they are flabbergasted to find out how ill-prepared they are to handle the trials of the world.

If you travel to China, you will find a very different way of looking at things. They are not afraid to hurt the feelings of a child or his/her family if it means that the child will grow from the experience. The number of Indian doctors and business owners speaks well of India’s outlook on the subject.

Life is cruel. It may be time for us to take a long field trip and discover the less spoiled values of the world abroad. If you need extra incentive, start at the top and read again.

Krissy Georgiadis

Written by Krissy Georgiadis

Law graduate and wanderlust sufferer. I like rum and beaches.