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Haley Busick

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Twanna Yates


Pressure on Youth to Excel in Sports

Seventy percent of the youth in the United States stop playing sports by the age of 13

according to a survey done by the National Alliance for Youth Sports. Over the past few years,

Parents and Guardians tend to put an excessive amount of pressure on children to excel in sports.

Pressure is defined as the burden of physical and mental distress. Most kids do not look at sports

as entertaining and fun anymore because as children get older, the system of the youth sports are

leaning more toward needs of competitive players which increases the expectations on them

creating the pressure. Coaches have an influence on their athletes that can be positive or

negative, as do parents and guardians. In a study conducted by Stephen S. Leff and Rick H.

Hoyle on tennis players;

​“Both females and males perceived similar levels of support from their mother and

father; however, females perceived greater support from both parents than did males.

Males perceived higher levels of pressure from their father than from their mother,

whereas females perceived similar levels of pressure from both their father and mother.”

Male athletes receive more pressure from other male figures in their lives, while female athletes

receive pressure from both male and female figures. Influential adult figures in their lives such as
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Parents/Guardians/Coaches are putting too much pressure on kids to excel in sports because of

the amount of money available in scholarships, for good health and to accomplish certain goals.

One of the pressures that youth face in sports is without an athlete scholarship these

individuals may not have the financial means to attend college. A scholarship is a sum of money

or other aid granted to a student, because of merit, need, etc., to pursue his or her studies. College

tuition has drastically increased over the years. According to the College Board, the average cost

of tuition and fees for the 2017–2018 school year was $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for

state residents at public colleges, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public

universities (What's the Price Tag for a College Education?) scholarships provide the opportunity

for many individuals to earn an education. Students often have trouble paying for the education

they need to obtain in order to enter the workforce and become a tribute to today’s society.

Roughly two-thirds of all college graduates are burdened with student loans upon

leaving school. Due to constantly rising tuition prices, these loans average $20,000. Compared to

the debt experienced by students in the early 1990s, this is a 50 percent increase. According to “5

seasons why scholarships are essential” One-quarter of the U.S. population 70 million people

owe a collective $700 billion in student loan debt. In 2011, student debt surpassed $1 trillion

(Josh Mitchell and Maya Jackson-Randall). According to College Greenlight blog, Over the past

several months, Congress was engaged over whether or not to keep student loan rates from

doubling. They could not come to a decision and it resulted in student loan rates jumping to

nearly 7%. Almost 40 percent of working Americans now hold a college education, according to

a report from the Lumina Foundation. The lumina foundation is a private, Indianapolis-based

foundation with about $1.4 billion in assets. Its mission is to expand student access and success
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in education beyond high school. College graduates, earned nearly $17,000 more on average than

non-college graduates in 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Scholarships and grants funded 30 percent of college costs for American families in 2013, and

the average amount of money received per family was $6,355, which is the second highest

amount over the past five years, according to a National Study of College Students and Parents,

conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.

There are many different scholarships such as academic, merit, athletic and etc.

Merit/academic scholarships are an exceptional performance in academics, athletics or artistic

endeavors can land students a scholarship to a particular university or program. If you receive a

merit-based scholarship then that indicates that you stood out among your peers. That means

getting good scores on your SAT and ACT also making good grades. Undergraduates that have

received generous scholarships to pay for their freshman year should continue their hard work

and good academic standing throughout their years in college, many scholarships must be

renewed and are open to upperclassmen as well (Alternative Scholarship Search Methods) Only

about 19% of high school students with a grade-point average of 3.5 to 4.0 on a 4.0 scale get

awards. Among all students, not just those enrolled full time at four-year colleges, the odds of

gaining an athletic scholarship are just 0.7 percent. Although, having a high SAT score does

increase your odds. Still, only 13 percent of students with 1,300 to 1,400 scores get money

(Singletary, 2011). This hopefully will motivate you to challenge yourself to reach higher goals

in your own life. In order to receive a scholarship, you must do the work to obtain it.

Coaches and parents often push their kids to maintain a good body health. By forcing

your kids to maintain a good weight, you are decreasing the risk for many diseases such as heart
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disease, also types of cancers and diabetes. Kids need 60 minutes or more of daily physical

activity. If kids lack physical activity, the risk to become obese can increase. Children with

obesity may tend to be bullied and teased more than someone who has a normal weight. This can

create an emotional distress on them and the children may suffer from social isolation,

depression and lower self-confidence.

Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of physical activities as possible in

order to have a better outlook on life. This can mean stronger muscles and bones, lower blood

pressure and cholesterol levels and lower risk for type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly

being reported among children who are overweight. People who are fit also tend to have less

trouble sleeping than those who are not physically fit. Soda and fruit drinks contain added

sugars which could be displacing nutritious beverages such as low-fat milk. Lean more toward

moving your kid’s drinking habits away from soft drinks and try homemade beverages such as

iced tea but with half the sugar as prepared drinks. One can even slice fresh oranges or lemons

and drop them in a pitcher of cold water for a refreshing drink.

In the Pediatrics study, researchers found that parents often encourage teens of healthy

weight to finish all of their food this is providing pressure to eat, while parents of overweight

teens ban some foods and encourage restriction. Neither of these practices is proven to improve

teens’ habits or their health. Parents should not force their kids to eat. Children should eat when

their body is hungry, stop when their body is full. Offer a variety of nutritious food and make

mealtimes enjoyable. Both mothers and fathers have an influence on their sons and daughters,

but it seems that a positive relationship between the mothers and daughters are extremely

important for helping females grow up with good eating habits, self-esteem, and a positive body
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image. A study published recently in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found

that teenage girls' desire to be thin or lose weight was based at least in part on their perception of

what their mothers wanted for them. Girls in the study were more likely to succeed on a diet if

their moms had done so. A third of the girls in the study reported wanting to be thinner.

Being obsessed with your weight can lead to serious conditions such as anorexia which

is an eating disorder causing people to obsess about weight and what they eat and bulimia, an

emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight in

which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting,

purging, or fasting. According to Help Guide, Studies show that exercise can treat mild to

moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication and shows that maintaining an

exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing. Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for

several reasons, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced

inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It releases

endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good.

In 39 Scientific Brain Benefits of Exercise, a meta-analysis which is a subset of systematic

reviews published in 2013 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at several groups of

people. These groups consisted of children, adolescents, and adults up to the age of 35, found

that short bouts of exercise had a significant effect across all age groups in areas of executive

function, along with inhibition and interference control – which is better known as willpower.

Neurobiological benefits from getting proper exercise can include an increase in energy, reduce

fatigue and it also slows down brain atrophy which is a decrement in the size of the cell, which

can be due to progressive loss of cytoplasmic proteins. This mostly starts in the hippocampus.
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According to the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The hippocampus

shrinks in late adulthood, leading to impaired memory and increased risk of dementia. In a

randomized controlled trial with 120 older adults, that aerobic exercise training increases the size

of the anterior hippocampus, leading to improvements in spatial memory. Exercise training

increased hippocampal volume by 2%, effectively reversing age-related loss in volume by 1 to 2

y. By exercising, the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's lowers. Professor Brayne, from the

Cambridge, Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge quoted

“Although there is no single way to prevent dementia, we may be able to take steps to

reduce our risk of developing dementia at older ages.” By “Simply tackling physical

inactivity, for example, will reduce levels of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and

prevent some people from developing dementia as well as a healthier old age in general –

it’s a win-win situation.”

According to the Alzheimer's Association, Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with

Alzheimer's dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately

200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer's. A report from the

World Health Organization says that “Worldwide, nearly 35.6 million people live with dementia.

This number is expected to double by 2030 (65.7 million) and more than triple by 2050 (115.4

million). Dementia affects people in all countries, with more than half (58%) living in low- and

middle-income countries. By 2050, this is likely to rise to more than 70%.

Although some parents are not enforcing their kids to maintain good body health, there

are other parents overly excessively enforcing proper body health. Putting children on diets or

forcing them into exercise programs can, in many cases, do more harm than good. Research
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suggests kids who diet end up weighing more than non-dieters, with lower self-esteem and

greater risk for eating disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from

just a generation ago. Forbidding foods only increases a child’s desire for that food. Instead of

saying no to your child’s favorite food, limit the portion size.

By pressuring kids to eat, it destroys their natural appetite, makes them eat less, may even

make them hate the food. In the Journal Appetite, a study from 2006 showed that children

experienced the early fullness and didn’t eat more food when pressured, but instead they ate less.

Kids also showed a dislike for the food they felt pressured to eat, like vegetables. Researchers

found that dads were more likely than moms to pressure their sons and daughters to eat, and

adolescent boys were pressured more than adolescent girls. Parental pressure to eat can be

harmful to children because it takes away from a child's ability to respond naturally to their own

hunger (Loth). According to NLM (National Library of medicine), Organized youth sports are

highly popular for youth and their families, with approximately 45 million children and

adolescent participants in the US. Seventy-five percent of American families with school-aged

children have at least one child participating in organized sports. Each year approximately 35%

of young athletes quit participation in sports. By the time children are 15 years of age, 70%–80%

are no longer engaged in sport. Physical activity that's spent outdoors is replaced with an average

of 7.5 hours per day of screen time. During the adolescent years, some athletes may experience a

decrease in flexibility, coordination, and balance, which not only increases the risk of injury, but

also impacts sports performance, placing more stress, anxiety, and social pressure on the young

athlete (Hedstrom).
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Parents often pressure their kids in sports to accomplish certain goals. Most children and

adolescents play sports and compete without any long-term negative effects. Research shows that

the large majority of children who are involved in sports do not suffer from excessive stress

(Stricker MD, 2015). As athletes get older in later high school, college, or professional sports

often strive to meet ambitiously high standards that they place on themselves. The pressure that

parents put on their children to accomplish certain goals might come from them not

accomplishing the goal when they were younger.

"Parents want kids to succeed and do well but when they get overly involved and

pressure kid’s they lose sight of the negative impact it has on a child," says Robi Ludwig, Psy.D.

parenting expert. Setting high expectations for your child does not mean it’s a bad thing. If these

high expectations so happen to have a negative impact on the child, it can affect the kids'

behavior such as kids might develop OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder), seeking out

underachieving friends, and may even turn to drugs. "The perfect balance is to be empathetic,

compassionate and helpful when your child is being too hard on themselves, while also asserting

just the right amount of pressure as the cheering squad to help your children be the best version

of themselves," says Dr. Ruskin. By settings goals for your child, it often motivates them to get

to them.

Pressure can also be good for decision making. Some of the best decisions are made

under pressure. Pressure may result in more focused attention and usage of unconscious

reasoning. When being under pressure, the situation may require being reactive and drawing

upon intuition. The ability to perform well under pressure and stress conditions is a great skill

that individuals can develop. There is much we can do to improve our decision making and
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performance under pressure conditions. If we learn to welcome and retrain our brain’s reaction to

pressure, discomfort, and imperfect conditions, then we can significantly alter our fear response

to pressure.

Students tend to stop playing sports due to the pressure from coaches, parents, guardians

and other influential adult figures. Student-athletes also have felt that they have lost their passion

for a sport due to parents and coaches excessively pushing them in order to excel. Parents push

their children to excel in sports because of the amount of money available in scholarships. If a

young athlete starts playing sports at an early age, they have a better chance of becoming a star

athlete. Parents also want their children to play sports or do some type of physical activity in

order to maintain a good body health. As the risk for obesity has increased, by making children

get 60 minutes or more of physical activity this risk decreases. As children get older and gain a

mind of their own, they start setting goals for themselves. When children set goals for

themselves, they sometimes need a little push and motivation in order to achieve those goals. By

setting these goals, you give them a reason to want to achieve them.
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Works Cited

Benzel, David. “Young Athletes and Pressure.” ​Growing Champions for Life​, David Benzel, 4

Feb. 2015,​ ​

Braff, Danielle. “Experts: When Parents Push Sports, Kids Often Lose.” ​Detroit Free Press,​

Chicago Tribune, 17 Nov. 2014, 4:56,


Miner, Julianna W. “Why 70 Percent of Kids Quit Sports by Age 13.” ​The Washington Post​, WP

Company, 1 June 2016,


Quinn, Bobbie. “Youth Sports: How Parental Pressures Affect Young Athletes.”​Gladiator

Guards​, Gladiator Mouthguards , 2 Feb. 2017,

c young-athletes/.

Rosen, Rebecca J. “Why Affluent Parents Put So Much Pressure on Their Kids.” ​The Atlantic​,

Atlantic Media Company, 21 Nov. 2015,

Souccar, Miriam k. “American Parents Have Become Obsessed with Their Children Being

Good at Sports.” ​Quartz,​ Quartz, 28 Dec. 2015,

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Stenson, Jacqueline. “Pushing Too Hard Too Young.” ​​, NBCUniversal News

Group, 29 Apr. 2004,

Stricker, Paul R. “Pressure to Perform.” ​​, Sports Success Rx! Your Child’s

Prescription for the Best Experience (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of

Pediatrics), 21 Nov. 2015,

Wadas-Willingham, Val. “Pushing Kids to Eat May Cause Obesity Later.” ​CNN,​ Cable News

Network, 22 Apr. 2013


Webeck, Donna.“Are We Putting Too Much Pressure on Our Kids to Succeed at Sport?”​Stuff​,21

Feb. 2016,