Let me be perfectly clear about my position on this: Youth sports participation is not “a job”.
If you come across someone who’s slinging that nonsense, walk away. (Better yet, run!)
The PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE does require a massive amount of sacrifice. It does take an enormous amount of work and training (both physically and mentally). It is filled with DISAPPOINTMENT, UNFAIRNESS, ADVERSITY, FAILURE, and LETDOWNS—with zero chance that you’ll get the result you’re aiming for.
It’s not easy. And, as I once read: “Success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day!”
And yes, as my friend DE aptly put it:
“…nearly every single aspect of your life, your consciousness, and your attention will need to be oriented around being the best player you can be” if your goal is to play in the NBA, WNBA, or Olympics.
Yet, with all that said, youth sport is still NOT A JOB. It is a process (of staying committed to your commitments). It is a journey (filled with ups and downs) and a repetitive day-to-day fight to stretch into something bigger than you currently are.
A job is a must- or have-to-do. Sport is not that. Sport is a get-to-do.
People who are tap-dancing and shucking the “it’s a job” are – knowingly or unknowingly – stripping kids of the one thing that makes the sport experience special: JOY.
The “Job” of a Youth Sports Coach Is…
One of the responsibilities of a coach who works with young people is to teach them how to PROTECT THEIR JOY. Teach them how to navigate through all the uncertainty, monotony, rigor, competitiveness, and pain that comes with pursuing lofty goals; while still staying connected to the aliveness of becoming our best.
The window of opportunity to be involved in youth sport is small. For most, that window closes between 15-17 years old. They have another 50-60 years to get a job.