“The car ride home can make all the difference,' said Mark Sakalosky executive director of Positive Coaching Alliance. Sakalosky said his heart breaks when he thinks about kids being scolded and chastised after a game.
According to the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University, 70% of kids drop out of youth sports by the age of 13 and Sakalosky is on a mission to change those numbers.
“We are launching a broad social advocacy campaign to make sure that we keep kids in the game,” he said. Part of that advocacy was the official launch of their new video and a panel discussion with community leaders held at the Amalie Arena on October 26.
Panelists weighing in were Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools Jeff Eakins, Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagen, CEO of Tampa Bay United Soccer Club Charlie Slagle, Tampa Bay Sports Commission Director of Special Events Claire Lessinger and Tampa Police Chief, Eric Ward.
School Board Vice Chair, Cindy Stuart along with Gaither High School’s marching band and more than 400 members of the community watched the newly released video, which was a realistic portrayal of what happens on the courts, the field and on the way home from sporting events. Sakalosky noted that sometimes parents and caregivers do not realize that they are discouraging kids from playing sports when they give input after a game.
The panel discussed the powerful life lessons they’ve personally learned through sports and how sports have helped them be successful as an adult personally and professionally.
Superintendent Jeff Eakins supported those thoughts and then cited the benefits students have by staying in the game throughout high school. He spoke about the importance of developing self-control, good character, good sportsmanship and critical thinking skills.
Eakins added, “Student athletes also have the potential to be great leaders on their school campus and can positively affect the school culture.”
During a time of nationwide concern over disconnected children, he mentioned the added benefit of the connectedness students feel at their schools when they are a part of a team. Eric Ward, Tampa police chief, agreed, “I’ve seen first-hand how sports can keep kids out of trouble.”
Sakalosky wanted to remind everyone that what we say matters. 'When Sports are used as a vehicle to teach character and leadership, we develop better people. And when better people thrive, our community grows and prospers,” he said.
The video can be found at keepkidsinthegame.org