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Kids say parents take the fun out of their sports

Tuesday - 4/3/2012, 6:19am  ET

littleleague.jpg
Kids say grown-ups at games yell too much, distract them and make them nervous. (Courtesy of Shawnee Co. Parks and Recreation)
Are parents ruining the fun for kids? What have you seen at your kids' sporting events that made you cringe? Or something that was encouraging? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP's Facebook Page or use #WTOPTalkback on Twitter.

David Burd, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Young athletes say pushy parents are taking the fun out of the game and, because of it, many more are quitting recreational youth sports.

Eighty four percent of kids in team sports quit or wanted to quit because "it wasn't any fun," according to an i9 Sports online study of 300 children between the ages of 8 and 14.

Almost one third blame grown-ups at the game who yell and pressure them, said Elizabeth Brown, a sports psychologist at the University of Maryland.

"They want to take over where they left off. They want to live through the glory of their child because that will elevate their status," Brown said.

Many parents have seen others get out of control on the sidelines or have realized they are part of the problem. Recently, organizers of a high school hockey game at the Cabin John Ice Rink blew the whistle on rowdy fans.

The survey commissioned by the non-profit arm of Tampa-based i9 Sports, a franchise of youth sports leagues, shows 36 percent of kids at games have seen parents arguing on the sidelines.

According to the survey, 84 percent of the kids wish they had more fun playing sports but say obstacles include mean teammates and yelling grown-ups.

While 56 percent of the 160 boys and 140 girls say they play sports to have fun, 42 percent would rather play video games than sports. Why? The survey finds 74 percent have more fun with video games, while 28 percent say sports can be too competitive. Seventeen percent say they feel too pressured to win, while 20 percent say the coach doesn't let them play enough.

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