BEVERLY — Every professional sport is a results-based business where the accepted mentality is that winning is everything.
Youth sports though, aren’t meant to be results-based. They’re meant to be fun-based, and lately, it seems there are more and more people who’ve lost sight of that difference and it’s the kids who’ve suffered most.
Former ESPN radio host Chuck Wilson and ex-New England Patriot Pete Brock have been making sure people remember the more important values in all sports and yesterday, the two men visited the Beverly Youth Football practice fields behind Hurd Stadium to give their message to the kids, coaches and parents of Panther football.
Wilson works with Even Field, a program aimed at promoting integrity and ethical behavior through sports while Brock is with Football For You, a program created by the is a program created by the New England Patriots Alumni Club. Both programs are about the same message.
“I was a longtime host on ESPN radio and saw over the years, this win at all costs mentality and it was driving me crazy because I believe in having an even playing field,” explained Wilson. “We want to return the proper values to sports and have that translate to life because its all about the values your kids are going to grow up with. You don’t want them as adults cutting corners, tricking or deceiving people. You want your kids to grow up to be someone others trust and a lot of that is transmitted through sports.”
Brock echoed similar sentiments.
“Even Field conveys the message of how you win matters and I like that a lot for what we’re trying to do as Patriots Alumni. We serve the same purpose. Our mission is to make sure kids have a great opportunity to learn teamwork, achievement through hard work and leadership.”
Brock and his Football For You program came to Endicott College earlier this summer and the Beverly Youth Football people in attendance decided they wanted both Even Field and Football for You to return to the Garden City. This time though, Brock and Wilson wouldn’t be speaking to just players and coaches.
After all, parents play such a crucial role in a child’s passion and enthusiasm in sports.
“It’s absolutely critical,” Brock said of talking with parents. “It’s their influence, the ‘my kids not playing enough, what do I need to do’. We’re trying to bring the positive back into the whole experience all the way from parents to coach to players and loop all that back so having the parents and coaches here is critical.”
Many people may be surprised to find out how few children actually stick with organized, team sports throughout their childhood to young adulthood. In fact, 70 percent of children quit team sports by the time they reach the age of 14.
There’s a multitude of factors in play but for a lot of kids, the fun has been sucked out of the game. And sports are supposed to be about having fun, first and foremost.
“We’re trying to improve the youth culture in sports. At the end of the season, if your son or daughter has had fun, they’ve learned the skills and they want to return, then you’ve won,” said Wilson. “They can’t take the record from this year and bring it with them to next year. Sometimes there’s too much pressure to perform and win and kids don’t see themselves getting better. We want to turn that around.”
If the practice fields behind Hurd Stadium last night are any indication, the turnaround has already begun. Nearly 200 players, their parents as well as cheerleaders were on hand practicing as Brock and Wilson prepared to deliver their message.
“This is terrific, are you kidding? 190 kids on a nice summer day like this, it just emphasizes the fact that the kids want to make a difference and be different in their own lives,” said Brock. “So the dedication they make and commitment they make to their team and teammates through football is pretty cool to witness.”