I Didn’t Say He Stole My Money

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Read the following sentence, emphasizing the bolded word.

I didn’t say he stole my money.

I didn’t say he stole my money.

I didn’t say he stole my money.

I didn’t say he stole my money.

I didn’t say he stole my money.

I didn’t say he stole my money.

I didn’t say he stole my money.

Did you notice how the sentence shifted meaning each time, depending upon which word was emphasized?

The same thing holds true for youth sports.  Where the athlete, the coach and the parent place emphasis will completely change the meaning of the sport.  Yes, it will look and at first glance feel like the same sport experience (much like quickly looking at the series of sentences looks like it is the same sentence), but it will feel and mean something vastly different.

Why is your child playing her sport?

Do your actions and the actions of her coaches really support what you just told yourself?

Are your child’s goals for herself in the sport and reason for playing it in synch?

What about your goals for her?  Or should your goals even matter?  And then there is the coach.

What are the coaches’ motivations and aspirations for your child?

Most parents enroll their children in a sport to keep them busy, to let them have fun, to develop basic fitness and coordination and to learn important life lessons like sportsmanship and discipline.  Yet, when a child begins to excel, those reasons often give way to pursuit of success, winning medals and games, all-star teams and titles, college scholarships, national team and even the Olympics or professional teams.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong in pursuing these higher-level goals, it must be done with careful consideration by all parties involved to ensure that the emphasis remains a healthy one for the athlete.

After all, no parent wants to say “I didn’t say she hated gymnastics” when our intention is to be saying “I didn’t say she hated gymnastics.”

Emphasis changes everything.