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What Burnout In Kids’ Sports Teaches Us About Business

Countless studies have shown that playing sports is beneficial for kids, especially when it comes to developing social skills and competitive drive. 

Though youth sports can help build talents and character, the toll that competitive sports takes on both children and their families is not discussed enough.

Children are at a higher risk of injury, burnout, and losing the fun of their sport in the rush to be the best at a young age, while parents are faced with the costs of supporting their child through training camps, competitive leagues, and supplementary lessons.

An article by The Atlantic unpacks this discussion and highlights the dangers of intense involvement in sports from a young age.

“In my observation, this is most common among competitive club sports, which for many kids begin during elementary school and extend through high school. For all the evidence that shows how exercise and sports benefit children, comparatively little research exists on the costs of competitive youth sports participation to the unpaid support network that enables it—specifically, the young athletes’ families. What of the marriages, siblings, and extended relatives who are pulled in or dragged along or left out when one child takes up soccer or tennis with gusto, and the parents go all in? Besides so much else that’s wrong with contemporary elite youth sports—the prohibitive cost, erosion of fun, epidemic of injuries—disrupted families should be added to the list.

For parents, the financial costs alone are steep—even when their kids aren’t high-level athletes. According to a 2019 study conducted by the Aspen Institute think tank and Utah State University of 1,032 adults with kids who played sports at the recreational, high-school, or club level, families spend an average of $693 annually for each sport a child plays. Though the high price squeezes many low-income kids out entirely, in households earning less than $50,000, parents still pay an average of $475 annually per child per sport. And raising a highly promising child athlete can require major financial trade-offs.”

Read the rest of this article here.

Many families don’t mind the financial aspect of the kids’ sporting world; in fact, some parents may even welcome it in hopes that their child will achieve a scholarship down the road and eradicate the damage.

What’s more important here is two-fold: the constant parental involvement and the safety of kids playing sports.

At face value, sports are meant to be a fun outlet. The danger arises when kids become at risk for injury and burnout, and this can happen at a very young age if a child is left largely to their own devices.

Burnout and intense parental involvement are very closely related, and not just within the sports realm.

Too much pressure placed on a kid can result in anxiety or the urge to step away from the sport, hence where burnout becomes prevalent. This can happen with school, sports, extracurricular activities, or anything else that a child is passionate about.

Here’s the big takeaway: to avoid burnout, focus on what matters most in any given activity, and find intrinsic motivation within it.

In business, burnout can occur relatively easily if you don’t find joy and purpose in what you do. Like a kid playing sports, you have to find the fun in it and do your best for the right reasons.

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