Are Youth Sports Essential?

Sam Bremer, Deputy Editor

What are youth sports? At face value, the question seems pretty easy to answer, but ask 100 people on the street and you’d get 100 different answers. Are youth sports a yearly competition for a league title? Are they a development site to build the best possible players? Or are they just a fun-centered escape from school where kids can run around with some friends? All of those answers are more than fair, but the beauty of the youth sport industry is that no one really knows. And the answer to that first question can say a lot about a given community, just as it does at Minnetonka.

To state the obvious, Minnetonka is very good at offering a wide range of sporting opportunities for all levels and all age groups. Minnetonka Activities Director Ted Schultz says, “A lot of that is run by the community,” And as Schultz said, it’s very important to have that community support because it gives all kinds of kids with all kinds of goals “Lots of different opportunities to learn and explore, and figure out what their thing is.” 

Despite all the different levels and intensities that Minnetonka offers in youth sports, it’s impossible to run a sporting program at any level without involving the competitive aspect that is so intertwined with all sports. But as Minnetonka 6th Grade Boys’ Basketball Coach Charlie Dorn put it, “That’s not super important to me.” Obviously, competition is important in any sport but when coaching middle/elementary schoolers, it’s not the biggest thing. Dorn said, “I coach at the highest level, so the expectation is to try to win games. But I always tell parents that my priority is to develop a passion and get kids to learn to play the right way, because at the end of the day, you remember the experience”. On the more laid back aspect of youth sports, Dorn added that “Most of the best memories I have from youth sports don’t have anything to do with the games. It’s about that connection with your teammates and your passion for the sport. And let’s be honest. Ultimately, no one’s going to remember their record in any sport in 6th grade”.

As far as MHS goes, there are plenty of ways coaches support Youth Sports, whether it’s in-season clinics, camps during the off-season or even hosting youth nights for big Varsity games. Schultz said, “Our coaches are always gonna be used as a resource, and every sport has different levels of involvement in the youth program. That said, a good connection between high school and youth level sports is always a positive.” 

Regardless of how youth sports are viewed in a community, the fact is that they are extremely important. Whether it’s about winning all the games you possibly can, developing a love or passion for a sport, or even if it’s just about hanging out with all of your friends in a non-school setting, youth sports are integral to the childhood of so many Americans, and it’s more important than ever that our communities give them the support that they deserve.