Sports Management Blog

Fast Food and Youth Sports

Over the past few decades, a defining aspect of American culture has risen and impacted the country in negative ways: fast food culture. The convenience, speed, and time-saving values of the fast food industry and especially the drive-through have been well chronicled, along with the negative effects on health and activity. In California, there are ads about getting active. A kid calls his grandma in the house to come to his room just to grab the remote for him from the table in front of him. While that is supposed to be an exaggerated example, some may say that it’s actually not. All our technology has made it so humans are required to do less and less. Coupled with this is the reliance on mobile devices. According to a British study quoted in a Huffington Post article, the action of looking at your phone, even for just a couple of seconds, is becoming habitual. People are spending more and more time on their phones, about a third of their day, according to this study1. Take my own life as an example. I work with a computer and my breaks and any idle time are filled with looking at my phone. Many of my coworkers do the same.

Obesity rates in children have been on the rise, a key reason why former First Lady Michele Obama advocated for and implemented campaigns for kids to eat healthier and get more active.

image from the Obama white house

Being overweight/obese leads to many health risks, such as high blood pressure leading to heart complications, diabetes, bone problems, fungal infections, and acne, as pointed out by WebMD2.  At the same time, we have seen a rise in popularity of eSports, games like League of Legends and Fortnight, and their popularity in social media. An article in the Guardian points out that in Britain, a child gets their first cell phone around 12 years old. And one in ten of kids gets a phone by the age of five! It is astonishing that they are building the habits of phone dependency at that age. This same article cites a study stating in America, only 29% of high school students are active for an hour a day. That is the supposed minimum amount, also referenced in campaigns like the NFL’s Play60, referring to an hour of play a day. The Obama Whitehouse’s Let’s Move campaign also states that an hour a day is the minimum.

There is a need to get more active, and sports is a great way to do that.

The benefits of playing organized team sports cannot be stated enough. The first, obvious one is getting active. Organized sports also provide the opportunity to get involved in structure, a routine of practice and games, getting used to play with a group and building teamwork. These are well known, but many reports like the Physical Activity Council’s show while participation overall is not doing too bad, rates seem to be flattening. More importantly, how they play is changing. There is a difference between going for an hour walk versus an hour of jogging/running. Playing an organized game of basketball is a different level of activity than just shooting around. According to this report, 17% of 6 to 12 year-olds were inactive, a 5% decrease from just the previous year.

 

Physical Activity Council Participation Report

From the chart above, inactivity rates are going down overall, which is great progress, especially with kids (under 18). The goal is to continue to get kids to adopt better habits with eating and staying active. Team sports is a great way to go. Kids become accustomed to playing sports and staying active, forming a habit that hopefully lasts for a long time. Living healthy, staying active, and eating properly can be hard to pick up. Starting early and developing good habits at a young age increases the odds of those habits lasting and to generations becoming healthier and living longer. The foundation is laid with participation in youth sports and activities.

References

  1. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/smartphone-usage-estimates_us_5637687de4b063179912dc96
  2. https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/obesity-children#1
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/technology-inactive-lifestyle-changing-children
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Sports and the Need for Organization

If we needed to use a few words to describe the 21st century, some words that come to mind are efficiency, convenience, and speed. Basically, accomplishing tasks properly with the least number of steps. Faster cars, more fuel-efficient cars, faster, thinner, and cheaper tech, better and more user-friendly apps, phones that can do more than laptops of old. The list can go on and on. That is the overall theme, but how about in sports?

The first thought here about the changes in sports may be with regards to styles of play. With the World Cup, we see soccer is getting faster. There is smarter movement and creative formations and roles due to the ability to specialize. We see the influence of other sports. On corner kicks and free kicks, we see a lot of football and basketball movements, creating space with pretty much moving screens, hand checking, flopping, and quick movements and changes of pace dominating movement on the pitch.  In the last edition, the Dutch national team during their penalty shootout substituted their goalkeeper who played the entire game for another, who has a better record saving penalty kicks. Of all things you could call the move, random isn’t one of them. Preparation is a part of every sport, especially at the pro level. Scouting, talent evaluators, are finding ways to quantify and get a leg up on their competition by completely understanding their opponents. The other team, in this case Costa Rica, had to adjust to a new goalkeeper, who has tendencies to protect a certain side and has a different skill set. Which requires a different skill set to adjust. Costa Rica was unable to adjust. That level of decision making requires an organization which allows for a coach to focus on knowing their players’ games inside out and do what he is paid to do, which is coach and get the best out of his players.

The most recent World Cup didn’t see as many bold decisions to this degree, other than if you are aware of the organizational chaos in the Argentinian team. Argentina was in the World Cup final in 2014. Now, they made it into the knockout stage after relying on other results, and not taking care of business against Iceland, and not being up to play against Croatia. Since 2010, Argentina has had 5 coaches. Their current coach, Jorge Sampaoli, has changed his starting lineup in every single game he has been the manager for. The Argentine federation is known to be cash-strapped, with there even being reports that Lionel Messi who some consider the best player in the world and maybe ever, had to pay the salaries out of his pocket of the support staff. The lack of organizational stability has also caused new players to come in and out, and senior players like Messi announced their retirement, and then came back with the hope of a new coach, only for that to be left up in the air again now with Argentina’s elimination. Players and coaches can only do so much. Allowing the players to focus all of their energy on playing, and picking the right coach to bring the best out of the players is a duty for the organization. An unstable organization cannot execute as needed to produce results.

A great representation of organizational stability and player talent coming together is the Spanish national team. Winning the UEFA Euro’s in 2008 and 2012, and winning the World Cup in between in 2010. Their “golden generation” with great coaching and crucially, organizational stability, were able to enjoy a great run of success. How did it end? Stability was taken away. The coach in 2014 was unable to adapt to teams figuring their style out. The organization failed to do its job in adapting and growing with the style of the play. Then in this most recent world cup, they fired their coach two days before their tournament opener. The theme here is the importance of organizational stability and efficiency. With the example of Argentina, a lack of efficiency and trust have left their football in a state of disarray. Meanwhile, Spain’s stability, trust, and efficiency garnered them a huge success, but a small disruption in that trust and efficiency and a failure on the part of the organization to stay ahead of the curve led to poor results the past couple tournaments. Administrative burdens have hurt teams and leagues whether professional or amateur.

International competition is a useful example, but this principle can be applied to the leagues kids participate in as well. As league managers and parents, there is an expectation that the focus of youth sports should be on the kids growing because of playing the sports they chose to play. Having administrative hurdles takes away from that focus, and creates a need for organizational stability and efficiency so that the focus of coaches and organizers can be on the kids.  SquadFusion provides the resources for your organization to efficiently organize practices and games, get players registered and organized into teams, collect and manage payment methods and plans, and provide peace of mind for parents, coaches and league managers so that they can focus on bringing the best out of their players and produce results.  Just like most things in the 21st Century, efficiency, trust, and convenience, and speed of getting set up are key, and SquadFusion provides that opportunity, in a one-stop shop experience. In this day in age, efficiency, convenience and simplicity aren’t just needed, they are demanded, and SquadFusion delivers.

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