Youth Lacrosse: It’s just a GAME!
Camaraderie, fun, teamwork, competition, hard work, friendships, excitement and good sportsmanship. Those are some words that come to mind when I think of how youth lacrosse players should describe their playing experiences and memories. Notice that I did not include taunting or trash talk by adults to children.
Yes, winning is fun. Yes, losing sucks.
But when we are talking about youth lacrosse the focus should be on mastering the fundamentals and learning the game, learning to operate and compete in a team setting, and ultimately having fun while doing so. Earlier this summer while at a youth tournament I watched a tensely contested game between two U-11 teams (note: I have no affiliation w/either team and was simply an observer). The play on the field was somewhat chippy at times, but what was shocking to me was the behavior of some of the parents towards the opposing players. I heard taunts and trash talk from adults being directed at 11 year olds. How is that acceptable!? A few parents were worked up to hysterical levels about a lacrosse game between kids who are not even teenagers yet. Sure, it was the championship game, but what was really at stake? Nothing. Win or lose, both teams would go home with nothing more or nothing less than they showed up to the tournament with. Roll the ball out and let the boys play. May the best team win based on their play on the field. That’s all there is to it. The parents who felt the need to berate the players should be ashamed, and their “input” was pathetic.
Lacrosse is a great game and provides an amazing opportunity for athletes of all ages to compete on the field and form lifelong friendships. There is no reason or place for poor sportsmanship from the sidelines or stands to be directed towards the field, especially when we are talking about youth players!! Remember, lacrosse is just a GAME and should be treated as such. Good sportsmanship can go a long way in making sure that the GAME remains fun for everyone.