Friday, September 21, 2007
middle school football players time on the field
It was extremely disappointing to hear that at the first Sierra Vista Middle School football game, many players received far less playing time than their teammates. Young players were left on the sidelines for the majority of the game, while a small portion of the team dominated the playing time on the field.
The Sunnyside community caused controversy after implementing its gang ordinance earlier this year...a reactive solution to a preventative problem. Participating in extracurricular activities like after-school sports have been shown to greatly reduce the likelihood of teenagers to be in gangs, drop out of school or experiment with drugs.
Instead of taking the opportunity to use sports as a tool to establish protective factors like teamwork, a sense of accomplishment and belonging, hard-work ethic, resiliency and healthy competition, kids are eventually discouraged to drop out of sports because of coaching styles displayed by the Sierra Vista football staff.
At the middle school level, kids play sports to learn. While there will be be a varying skill level, the focus should remain on providing all players opportunity to see what it means to be on a team and play competitively. Standing on the sidelines after four weeks of practice may make sense in competitive high school sports, but in middle school it is neither helpful nor useful for these kids or the community.
Middle school is a critical period in adolescence. Football may not seem very profound, but at that age it can have a huge impact on boys. I urge the Sierra Vista coaches to focus on giving their players more equal opportunity so that the impact on their team is a long lasting, positive one.
/s/ Monica Sanchez, Cheney