Youth sports

As we get ready for a fun season of summer sports, it’s time for a friendly reminder to parents about alcohol at youth sporting events.

It is not uncommon to see a group of adults with lawn chairs and coolers tailgating before a youth sporting event. These tailgates come complete with a wide variety of adult beverages. If it is an indoor event, basketball or volleyball, parents will designate a place to meet for drinks before the event. I know that this type of behavior is still the exception rather than the rule, but consumption of alcohol by adults is becoming more prevalent around youth sports.

As youth sports have become more competitive, adults have elevated the status of many youth teams to that of collegiate and professional teams. Having an adult beverage at a college or professional contest is fine and acceptable. It has no place at a young adult’s sporting event.

As adults, we need to model appropriate behavior; this includes knowing acceptable times to drink and when to say no.

Youth sports are meant for participants to learn things such as the value of competition and teamwork. Young men and women should not have to worry about out of control behavior by adults, which many times can be fueled by alcohol. Spectators are more likely to criticize and say things that are inappropriate when under the influence of alcohol.

Promoting a healthy life style is a goal of youth sports. Adults consuming alcohol contradicts this. Show your youth that you support their participation in athletics. Do this by cheering appropriately and refraining from the use of alcohol in order to promote a healthy and competitive environment.

Many youth sports fields and complexes are now making it unlawful to consume alcoholic beverages on the property. I think this is a good idea. Ultimately, it will be the decision of the individual whether or not to mix alcohol and youth sports.

I would hope that adults will send the message that it is not necessary to drink in order to enjoy the competition of youth sports. Give youth sports back to the kids by focusing more on their enjoyment than your own.

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Kevin Kush of Boys Town wrote this guest blog for momaha.comKush has been a teacher and coach for more than two decades and is widely recognized as an outstanding motivational speaker. He has been honored as an ABC News “Person of the Week” for leading his Boys Town High School team of at-risk youth to an undefeated regular season. He is also the co-author of "Competing with Character," where he examines the good and the bad going on today on youth playing fields, along the sidelines, and in the stands. "Competing with Character" is a guide to creating an environment where character, sportsmanship and fun are once again priorities youth sports. 

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