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Minnesota Youth Athletics Services

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I hear that lots of videos go viral, but I seem to miss so many of them. But one did make it on my radar, and I was appalled at what I watched: a teenage girl brutally leveling an opponent as they transitioned from one end of the floor to the other, during a live basketball game. 

I just couldn't believe that actually happened. I mean, an action like that should not exist within the realm of youth sports, where athletes can focus on learning lessons for a lifetime, on positive things that have been around sports for so long. 

The question is: What are the expectations when each person arrives at a gym or field to participate in a youth sports experience? Because everybody has a role, and I think that is the proverbial elephant in the room at games and events in youth sports.  

In that viral video, the mother yells to her daughter, "You better hit her." That is not what is expected of a parent or spectator!

I have a deep connection to — and an appreciation for — tournament directors and the work they put into running a successful event for participating teams. They have tough jobs, lots of responsibilities: Handling registrations, filling tournaments, finding officials, creating brackets, etc... But what gets lost is training and educating all those important figures involved and setting expectations for everyone. Each person has a role, and he or she must stay in their lane. If everyone maintains that perspective, and everyone works together, then the young athletes can have a great environment to compete and learn. 

Those things become an afterthought because leaders in youth sports are struggling to keep their heads above water. They are putting out fires, and dismiss best practices or resources, instead of thinking — and working — ahead. Another alarming problem with the girl who attacked the other: She had been caught on camera throwing punches at someone during a game in September.  

But were organizers of the event held in November, with that same girl participating, made aware of this conduct? 

I've been an assistant coach for my daughter's basketball team, and the tournaments we've been to have no reference on the importance of sportsmanship or interaction with officials. Spectators shouldn't be criticizing every call or yelling in a way that is threatening and/ disturbing.  

There needs to be an expectation of zero tolerance.  

I've seen success with tournaments that write out expectations of sportsmanship and what the consequences are of acts that defy sportsmanship, and ways that people can report what they see and hear. 

Recently, I was officiating a girl’s high school varsity contest, and the organizers did clearly communicate expectations. And after the game was over, my officiating partners and I were in for a surprise. As we left the court, two players from the home team handed me three small envelopes. When I opened it, I read a card with a kind note a gift card.  

 

Dawson Blanck has been a member of the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services (MYAS), Inc., since 1999. In 2019, he became the Executive Director, and his passion for the organization and its' mission, values and goals hasn't wavered over the last two decades. He has 22 years of experience administering youth sports at a high level and has dedicated his entire professional career to improving the delivery of youth sports services to every youth athlete, coach, parent, official and the associations that serve them. He continues to have that same passion and commitment today, due to the life lessons learned, fond memories and friendships created throughout his own athletic, coaching, and officiating career. 

Dawson Blanck, Executive Director of MYAS
Dawson Blanck, Executive Director of MYAS
Youth Sports Done Right