A new national survey of 2,000 youth sports parents and coaches conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance illuminates a troubling decline in what some would say is the most important lesson of youth sports: sportsmanship. The results generated new resources and information available to help address this important issue head on.
The survey reveals that sportsmanship is considered among the most important lessons taught by youth sports. Regrettably, approximately 50 percent of parents and coaches believe that sportsmanship has worsened in youth sports since they participated as children, while only 12 percent feel it has improved. Yet, the survey results suggest it may be their own behaviors that are contributing to this perception:
- 60 percent of respondents reported either witnessing or participating in negative or abusive sideline behavior.
- 26 percent of parents said they have witnessed a verbally abusive coach, and 16 percent of parents said they have witnessed a physical confrontation between parents.
- 55 percent of coaches have experienced parents yelling negatively at officials or their own kids, and two in five have experienced parents yelling negatively at other kids.
Further, 75 percent of parents and coaches say that teaching sportsmanship is the responsibility of parents. With 80 percent of parents responding to the survey claiming to play an active role in their child’s youth sports experience, the challenge isn’t parental involvement; it’s taking the time to instill the value of sportsmanship in their children.
“Growing up as a youth athlete, my coaches and parents were co