Lack of Participation in High School Sports

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Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby Hinsa » Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:07 am

I am seeing a disturbing trend in high school sports.

The numbers of students who choose to participate in sports is dwindling. I see it all over - schools with 200 in grades 9-12 where only 14 girls are out for basketball in grades 9-12; schools with 20-30 boys in a class unable to field a 7th grade basketball team; forfeits galore at wrestling duals; relatively large 9-man schools unable to practice because they don't even have 18 boys out for football; large B schools and small A schools with not enough kids out for basketball to field a "C" or freshman team; scrambling in the spring to find a warm body to throw in right field so the school can have a baseball team; and the list could go on and on.

What examples do you see in your area? Are high school sports dying? Why is participation down? How do we get more athletes off the couch and onto the field/court/mat?

Or are the participation numbers just fine and I'm worried about nothing?
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby Sportsrube » Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:01 pm

In our area we have a small number of kids who have chosen to work instead of participate in extra-curriculars. They value material things over sports, which is their right. We also have some kids who choose not to participate because its too much work or they don't have the drive to actually compete for playing time. I would hazard a guess that it is a number of reasons and not just any one reason.
The sport that is really down in my area is wrestling - very few dual matches anymore because a third of the weight classses are forfeits due to one team or the other not having enough kids. We also have a few kids who choose not to wrestle because they are already thin and the coaches want them to lose 10 pounds or more before the 1st official weigh in that determines how much weight they can cut during the season. (None of the wrestlers in our school eat lunch once the season starts - How healthy is that?)
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby Hinsa » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:45 pm

It seems to me that if it's a choice between letting the kid wrestle at a comfortable weight or having another open weight class, I'd let the kid choose his weight.

Another thought about the lack or participation - too many things to do that don't require any physical work, like watch TV, play video games, text your friends, etc. I worry that overall we are raising a very lazy generation right now.

I've had parents come to me with stories of pulling their hair out trying to get their kids to participate. Yet when you ask tactful questions you find out that Johnny or Jill is sitting on the couch for hours at a time playing, watching, talking, texting, etc. Come on Mom and/or Dad, take that stuff away until they figure out that there are other things to do like, oh, I don't know.....PLAY SPORTS!
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scoobyx2 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:15 pm

I agree that there are a lot of lazy kids who basically just want to drive around. I don't even know very many kids who even babysit anymore! But 1 aspect that also needs to be looked at is the schools need to start hiring "program builders" and not just anyone who is going to coach for only a few years. It isn't too shocking when a coach has a kid who is the star on the team, but I am disappointed when that player doesn't have a classmate or friend who can hold his/her own along with that player. If that coach can't reach out to his kid's class and develop anyone to play, then they can't be doing a good job with teaching and inspiring kids that they don't really know.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby ndlionsfan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:38 am

Scooby, the only problem with your post is that you must think good coaches (program builders) are a dime a dozen. There just aren't that many coaches out there anymore, especially good coaches. I got my first head coaching job after my 3rd year of teaching. Took over a program that had been at the bottom of their district for 10 years. My first season we went 4-18 but I could see improvement, but then the next season we had injuries and locker room problems and finished 1-19. Parents began pressing the school to fire me because "we had too much talent to only win one game", even tho before took over they had won 4 games total in the previous 3 years. So I said the heck with that because you can't build a program without parent support and resigned. Kept teaching for two more years, never coached anything higher than JH, and now I'm not even in the teaching field anymore. This is happening more and more in our schools today. Teachers don't see the worth in coaching when parents or administrators are on them all the time and they could make twice the money if they ref for the season instead of coaching. So then some mom or dad takes over the program because the school can't get anyone else, and then people quit or start pointing fingers because of favortism or something. Teachers make the best coaches because of the influence and contact they have with the kids each day. This isn't 100% true, but if you are going to build a program is usually has to start within the school. Less people are going into teaching each year because of low pay, and even fewer are going into coaching because of even poorer pay and all the crap they have to put up with. So alot of the time these schools just find someone to "fill-in" to coach and then you add in the laziness of kids plus all the other options they have with work and video games, etc, and you get the low participation that we are seeing most everywhere. That's another thing that makes these communities/schools/programs that have a good tradition even that more special because we will be seeing fewer and fewer of them as the years progress.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby classB4ever » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:32 am

1. Everything ndlionsfan said is 100% dead on.
2. Cost. Let's face it, everything about sports is costing more money and a lot of people can't afford it.
3. Parents are the backbone. Sometimes they have to force kids to do things they don't want, knowing that in the long run it is the right thing to do. Parents that let their kids make up their own minds need to ask this one question, "Do 10-17 year old kids really know what is best for them?"
4. Parents need to start their kids early to get the fundamentals instilled and then be strong enough to let go and allow the coaches to do their job. This one is very tough for many parents.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scoobyx2 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:35 am

ndlionsfan, I really don't think good coaches are a dime a dozen, and my post was directed at the schools that didn't appreciate people like you. What happened to you is exactly what schools need to start looking at! Many schools don't look to building a program over many years, and basically have to answer to parents (and school board members) immediately. So what is the incentive for a young 7th or 8th grader to dedicate a lot of time to a sport, when politics could easily come into play at any time? It is sad that a teacher like you, who was going to step up and try to teach kids (and probably get paid pennies) got so discouraged and stepped away. How do you think young kids feel?
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby ndlionsfan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:02 pm

That's the worst part, how it affects the kids. The two years I coached I had 20 players out for the team...respectable numbers and something to build on. When I got forced out, about 4-5 players didn't go out the next year because they were mad at everything that happened. This year they were looking at 8-9 kids total out to play and almost had to do an emergency co-op. But the administration got the head football coach to take the program this year (it had been someone from outside the school for the previous 2 years) and he was able to get 14 out to play. Half of the kids haven't played since JH or freshmen year so its a struggle, but at least they have the kids to play.

Another thing that really bugs me about my deal is that when I started I had a really talented group of 5 freshmen and I was looking 4 years down the road as being able to build and turn the program around. I really enjoyed working with them and they had a bring future, I just never got to finish the job.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby Hinsa » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:53 pm

I hear what you guys are saying about program builders and long term coaches, but that may not be the key to the lack of participation.

In my area there are several long-term coaches in place and they are struggling with numbers as well. I see on other threads where Central Cass, one of the largest B schools, is struggling for numbers and coach Kraft has been there for quite a few years. The excuse given is that coach Kraft is too aggressive. I have another take - could it be the girls don't want to put in the effort it takes to meet the standards that coach Kraft has set for the team? I'm not close enough to the situation to really know.

I do know of girls that quit because it's too much work to play basketball and then they give all kinds of excuses why it's not their fault that they quit. And that's not just girls, it's boys too.

Has anyone heard this excuse? "I'm not playing because I want to spend time in the weight room getting ready for this other sport." And then you talk to those that frequent the weight room and those kids are never in the weight room.

It just sickens me...
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby classB4ever » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:16 pm

Haven't heard that one. Have heard that they don't want to go out because they want to work. How do you explain to them that they get to work for the next 60 years of their lives so they should enjoy every aspect of high school that they can?
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby ndlionsfan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 3:53 pm

I've heard that excuse many times Hinsa. It goes the other way, too.....I don't want to go out for football so I can spend time shooting around, but then they don't pick up a bball from March thru November.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby ClassBEast » Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:51 pm

At Central Cass, I think it has a lot to do with various factors. Considering the size of our school, we should be competitive in every sport, but we're not. Here are my perspectives:

Fall – FB – We used to have really low numbers because of the lack of success of the team. Because of low numbers, younger kids have to play at a higher level before they are ready, and after getting pummeled week after week, don’t go out the next year. Luckily, this is starting to turn around. We have better numbers now and more success.

Fall – VB – Never had a problem with numbers. Girls love this sport. We have to cut a half-dozen or so every year. JO volleyball in the spring is also very popular.

Fall – Cross Country – Don’t usually have many serious long distance runners, it’s just never been a strong program. Kids may go out to stay in shape for basketball but rarely do we have contenders for top 10 in state.

Winter – Boys BB – Lots of numbers - usually in the mid-30’s for high school – have to cut several. No need to pull up JH kids because always have plenty of HS boys out for the sport. Successful program and intense, yet popular coach.

Winter – Girls BB – Low numbers – usually in the mid-teens for high school – quite often pull up JH girls after JH season is over to fill out a C-squad. Some low numbers may be due to an intense coach – girls are expected to attend open gym all year long and play in a summer league. This is too much commitment for a lot of girls and they give up once they get to high school. If basketball isn’t a favorite to begin with, they aren’t going to put that much extra time into it.

Winter – Wrestling – Usually pretty good numbers, but somewhat low this year. Historically a successful program.

Spring –Golf – enough numbers to be successful for both boys and girls teams.

Spring – Baseball – highly successful and highly popular.

Spring – Fastpitch Softball – new sport last year – enough numbers but a lot of work to do to compete with the Class A schools who have been playing it a long time. I’m not sure what the numbers will look like this spring.

Spring – Track & Field – numbers are not very high for the size of our school – too much competition with all of the spring school sports listed above and JO volleyball. Track is more work, and a lot of kids just don’t like to run, so it gets the short end of the spring sports stick at Central Cass.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby jtdc492 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:25 pm

I've had this conversation with friends and it would always come to video games and laziness. I pointed out that communities that field good numbers of participation year in and out regardless of size are communities that have very strong family values and a low divorce rate.

Homes with one parent, especially where the father is absent, tend to be the households with low participation numbers. Strong morals and character that are not instilled at home translates into poor work habits in school or sports.

I know this is not always the case, but is a factor.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scruffy » Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:00 pm

Another factor is expectations. It no longer is good enough to go out for a sport just to be involved and have fun. The pressure to excel has taken the fun out of it for many. The media portrays the sports as "win it all..or you're a failure" They scoff at second place. Watching parents, student sections and other fans scream at officials, coaches and participants can be embarrassing... Being "rude" is in and that is taking a toll...
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby larrybird33 » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:35 pm

jtdc492 wrote:I've had this conversation with friends and it would always come to video games and laziness.

I pointed out that communities that field good numbers of participation year in and out regardless of size are communities that have very strong family values and a low divorce rate.

Homes with one parent, especially where the father is absent, tend to be the households with low participation numbers. Strong morals and character that are not instilled at home translates into poor work habits in school or sports.


I know this is not always the case, but is a factor.


Amen. The breakdown of the family can be tied to virtually every problem in society. There are many exceptions to the rule, but in general, if your core family stays together, you are more likely to succeed.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby ndfan » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:01 am

scruffy wrote:Another factor is expectations. It no longer is good enough to go out for a sport just to be involved and have fun. The pressure to excel has taken the fun out of it for many. The media portrays the sports as "win it all..or you're a failure" They scoff at second place. Watching parents, student sections and other fans scream at officials, coaches and participants can be embarrassing... Being "rude" is in and that is taking a toll...


I couldn't agree with you more.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scoobyx2 » Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:08 am

ndfan wrote:
scruffy wrote:Another factor is expectations. It no longer is good enough to go out for a sport just to be involved and have fun. The pressure to excel has taken the fun out of it for many. The media portrays the sports as "win it all..or you're a failure" They scoff at second place. Watching parents, student sections and other fans scream at officials, coaches and participants can be embarrassing... Being "rude" is in and that is taking a toll...


I couldn't agree with you more.

When was there a time in sports that you shouldn't have pressure to excel? I don't understand when it became fun to compete in sports or anything, and not strive to win, and be the best you could be. I actually think it's low expectations of parents and players that are hurting participation in sports. They have already decided who will be good, and if they can't be the star, then why bother. It is hard to convince kids to run sprints everyday, go to the gym all summer, and accept criticism from a coach if they are not really expected to be good or a big contributer by their biggest fans...their family. There are very few parents who will support their kids by going to every game even though their kid might not get in the game because it isn't fun for them. So many parents don't shoot around with their kids or take them to camps, then they are the 1st ones to complain about the coaches and the refs being unfair.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scruffy » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:26 pm

No, that's not what I meant. If a kid goes out I would expect them to give 100% at all times. But not everyone is cut out for sports and many of those "border line" kids don't go out because of unrealistic expectations. We have to remember this is only high school sports. Very few if any will go on to make a career of this but they do learn good lessons in life. When it's said and done....a VERY LOW percentage of the people really care about high school sports and we have to keep that in perspective.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scoobyx2 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:44 am

scruffy wrote:No, that's not what I meant. If a kid goes out I would expect them to give 100% at all times. But not everyone is cut out for sports and many of those "border line" kids don't go out because of unrealistic expectations. We have to remember this is only high school sports. Very few if any will go on to make a career of this but they do learn good lessons in life. When it's said and done....a VERY LOW percentage of the people really care about high school sports and we have to keep that in perspective.

I know where you are coming from, and mean well. I do believe that every kid who wants to participate in a high school sport should be given an opportunity, and with the lower participation numbers, and schools getting smaller across the state, that should not be a problem for most kids. Also, we need to know what defines "border line" kids. Are they hard working, complete all the drills, never miss practice, practice all summer but just aren't that talented; or are they kids that think we should be happy they just came out, and we should accommodate them to have the numbers? Also, in many ND communities, a VERY HIGH percentage of people care about high school sports, and are interested in how their school kids are doing. My parents always said that I owed it to my town to participate in the school activities that were offered, and do the best I could do. They (along with a lot of families) couldn't afford a lot, but paid their taxes, and said we should take advantage of whatever was offered.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scruffy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:47 am

scoobyx2 wrote:
scruffy wrote:No, that's not what I meant. If a kid goes out I would expect them to give 100% at all times. But not everyone is cut out for sports and many of those "border line" kids don't go out because of unrealistic expectations. We have to remember this is only high school sports. Very few if any will go on to make a career of this but they do learn good lessons in life. When it's said and done....a VERY LOW percentage of the people really care about high school sports and we have to keep that in perspective.

I know where you are coming from, and mean well. I do believe that every kid who wants to participate in a high school sport should be given an opportunity, and with the lower participation numbers, and schools getting smaller across the state, that should not be a problem for most kids. Also, we need to know what defines "border line" kids. Are they hard working, complete all the drills, never miss practice, practice all summer but just aren't that talented; or are they kids that think we should be happy they just came out, and we should accommodate them to have the numbers? Also, in many ND communities, a VERY HIGH percentage of people care about high school sports, and are interested in how their school kids are doing. My parents always said that I owed it to my town to participate in the school activities that were offered, and do the best I could do. They (along with a lot of families) couldn't afford a lot, but paid their taxes, and said we should take advantage of whatever was offered.


and there lies the problem...parent pressure to get them to go out. I agree everyone should try to go out for some things but sports isn't for everyone yet many students feel pressured to go out. Fine arts, speech, drama and organizations like that don't seem to have the "parent pressure"..
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scoobyx2 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 9:09 am

scruffy wrote:
scoobyx2 wrote:
scruffy wrote:No, that's not what I meant. If a kid goes out I would expect them to give 100% at all times. But not everyone is cut out for sports and many of those "border line" kids don't go out because of unrealistic expectations. We have to remember this is only high school sports. Very few if any will go on to make a career of this but they do learn good lessons in life. When it's said and done....a VERY LOW percentage of the people really care about high school sports and we have to keep that in perspective.

I know where you are coming from, and mean well. I do believe that every kid who wants to participate in a high school sport should be given an opportunity, and with the lower participation numbers, and schools getting smaller across the state, that should not be a problem for most kids. Also, we need to know what defines "border line" kids. Are they hard working, complete all the drills, never miss practice, practice all summer but just aren't that talented; or are they kids that think we should be happy they just came out, and we should accommodate them to have the numbers? Also, in many ND communities, a VERY HIGH percentage of people care about high school sports, and are interested in how their school kids are doing. My parents always said that I owed it to my town to participate in the school activities that were offered, and do the best I could do. They (along with a lot of families) couldn't afford a lot, but paid their taxes, and said we should take advantage of whatever was offered.


and there lies the problem...parent pressure to get them to go out. I agree everyone should try to go out for some things but sports isn't for everyone yet many students feel pressured to go out. Fine arts, speech, drama and organizations like that don't seem to have the "parent pressure"..

I thought the topic was the LACK of participation. A little pressure from parents to make their kids get off the couch and go do something might not be such a bad thing. If you give kids the choice to go run miles at track practice or sit at home and do what you want as long as you are happy...most kids would (and they do) pick the 2nd one. My parents were not sports fanatics, and always stressed good grades, but staying home and doing nothing was not an option.
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scruffy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:10 pm

Correct but it seems like parents want to live "their dreams" in their kids life. To me basketball and football is the worst for this. I'm saying it doesn't always have to be basketball but it could be participation in track, drama, student congress or any other activity. I want my kids to be active in school sponsored events but it has to be in areas that THEY choose to be in....
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scoobyx2 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:53 pm

scruffy wrote:Correct but it seems like parents want to live "their dreams" in their kids life. To me basketball and football is the worst for this. I'm saying it doesn't always have to be basketball but it could be participation in track, drama, student congress or any other activity. I want my kids to be active in school sponsored events but it has to be in areas that THEY choose to be in....

Which takes us back to the original point of this discussion....what do you do if they don't choose anything? A lot of kids don't like to read either, but good parents make them!
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby scruffy » Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:12 pm

scoobyx2 wrote:
scruffy wrote:Correct but it seems like parents want to live "their dreams" in their kids life. To me basketball and football is the worst for this. I'm saying it doesn't always have to be basketball but it could be participation in track, drama, student congress or any other activity. I want my kids to be active in school sponsored events but it has to be in areas that THEY choose to be in....

Which takes us back to the original point of this discussion....what do you do if they don't choose anything? A lot of kids don't like to read either, but good parents make them!

I should have worded it "in areas they have INTEREST in", but I would never make my kid go out for an extra-curricular activity that they have no interest in it. Now reading or anything else related to the three "R"'s is a different manner but our school has requirements that exceed the state minimum regarding graduation so a lot of that takes care of itself..
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Re: Lack of Participation in High School Sports

Postby GRIDIRON GURU » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:06 am

"SCRUFFY WROTE" "When it's said and done....a VERY LOW percentage of the people really care about high school sports and we have to keep that in perspective"

That statement is totally untrue, if fact, the opposite is true. You have a VERY HIGH percentage of people who really care about high school sports.

In every small town in North Dakota, the sports teams are the talk of the town, the better the high school is in sports the better the whole community feels about itself.

When the teams or a team is doing crappy they are still the talk of the town, people start pointing fingers, losing creates hate and discontent. A losing team makes the whole community feel bad about itself.

There is pressure to succeed in high school sports thats the whole point of having high school sports. It teaches and reiforces core values that hard work pays off.

Sluffing and doing the bare minnimum will not get you very far in life.

Kids who do not cut it in basketball should be out for wrestling, or living in the wieght room getting ready for football, or in the batting cage getting ready for baseball.

It has never hurt a person to participate in a sport ever.
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