Are Kids Soft Now Days? — The Softer Side of Sports – By Daniel Scarpino

Well, are they? You tell me, folks. We have heard it from every angle – “Kids aren’t as tough as they were in my day” or “These kids are too pampered now days” or even “These kids wouldn’t survive back in my time”. These quotes, and many others, are all too familiar. But, are they entirely wrong? Hmmmmmm.

I think the biggest thing we need to look at is the way in which our lifestyles, sports, and society at large are constructed. It’s definitely easy to point the finger at a young kid and say, “You’re soft”. And, on the surface, for a variety of reasons, I think most folks would say that about kids now days. But, I believe we need to take a much deeper look at this generalization about kids. What I mean is, it’s relatively easy to make a judgement on a macro-level. But, we need to start asking deeper questions.

Are kids soft now days? – Generally speaking, yeah, they are. And, let me be incredibly clear – I DO NOT speak for all kids in this statement – Some kids are still raised & coached in ways that wouldn’t be generalized or seen as millenial-like. My biggest issue in regards to kids being viewed as “soft” is that people aren’t willing to analyze their positional premise before they actually make this blanket statement. Again, when people say, “Kids are soft now days”, they aren’t entirely wrong; however, we need to start asking “WHY” – More specifically, WHY are kids soft now days? It surely just didn’t come out of no where. If we can reasonably agree and conclude that there is causation and correlation, in most things, then we must be willing to delve into the ideological realm of potential factors that actually make kids the way that they are.

I do have some big problems with the way I see kids treated, particularly from a sporting perspective. Kids often times get away with way too much, are hyped up to be more than they are, and are made to feel like they are entitled. So, inevitably, when something doesn’t go there way, it’s a massive uproar – A lot of kids have an inflated ego because they’ve been fed verbal jargon about how spectacular they are and that they don’t need to listen to anyone else, may it be coaches, mentors, teachers, or other parent-like figures.

And, yes, sometimes we do get those circumstances and situations where it is very much, “That kid absolutely deserves better”. But, how about the other 80 out of 100 scenarios where the kid is given all they need in order to be successful, has every resource at their finger tips, and is presented with ample opportunity? Folks do not have the right to turn around and say, “My kid is the best, the next Sidney Crosby, going to the NHL”. Stop it, please. I think some people are so in denial about kids that it is absolutely scary.

Here is what it really boils down to, from a sporting perspective:

  • Kids need to be given care (i.e., our Duty and Standard of Care coaching document)
  • Kids need to be taught in idealistic and professional ways
  • Kids need to be presented with opportunity

Beyond that, I don’t want to hear that *kids name* is so great that he/she is entitled to anything they want. Guess what? It don’t work like that. And, if you are speaking it and acting it out, guess who will emulate and replicate what you say and do? – Yup *kids name*. Kids learn from adults, it’s no secret. So, why wouldn’t we model appropriate morals, values, and ethics for our children/players?

You wonder why kids turn up and say, “I am only practicing for half an hour today” or “I need a bag of ice” or “I don’t need to listen to you” or “I’m not playing that position”. These kids just don’t pick it up on their own. There is such thing as over nurturing and being down right delusional. Whatever happened to, “You will listen to what your coach says, you will act right, you will behave, and you will be respectful of those around you”? I just don’t see that so much these days, I really don’t. And, it’s sad because even though sports are generally perceived to be “not what they once were”, take a look at how much we have advanced sports from an athletic and intellectual perspective. Our athletes now are doing things that have never been done, and our knowledge of the game is exponentially growing! So, I don’t really buy into that basic argument. What I will buy into is the argument that kids are lacking a certain level of passion that once existed. But, again, who is creating that environment for the kid? Parents, coaches, mentors, etc.? – I think so.

The bottom line is that if we want to start shifting away from the whole reality and concept of, “Kids are soft now days”, then we need to start taking a good hard look at ourselves, as adults, and ask ourselves, “Am I being a realistic and positive role model to this kid?”. If you can’t answer that definitively, then you need to start making changes.

Kids are soft now days, but it’s because the sum of the parts that make up the whole. When a society is filled with people who perpetuate and attempt to instigate ideologies that embody what we understand as “entitlement”, then it’s no mystery as to why kids are the way that they are – We created it and we continue to immortalize such behaviours. Kids become less soft when you stop allowing them to settle for mediocrity and when you don’t allow them to take the easy way out. As adults, we need to be the example and not let it slide.