It’s no fun if it’s no fun.
Fun has such funky connotation. While most would agree that sports in general should be fun, there are certainly some cynics out there that would say we’re creating a “soft” competitor when fun becomes more important than winning. To those cynics I would say – there’s a reason you’re called a cynic. And – when we make the experience fun – you’re actually increasing your likelihood of winning, which – I”ll be the first to say, is always more fun than losing.
I would apply this regardless of the age. Of course, what might be deemed fun would be different for a 6 year old or a 16 year old or a 60 year old, but if fun is not part of the experience – there is a pretty good chance that (winning) experience isn’t going to happen very often.
Think about the last time you personally had fun. What were you doing? And probably a more important question is – who were you with? While fun can happen on your own – it tends to be, well – a lot more fun – when it’s a shared experience. Fun happens through sports because of the power of relationships and social interactions.
Pre-Covid, I hosted a Sunday morning basketball game for more than a decade and we’re planning to get back out there soon with those of us who are fully vaccinated. One of the gifts of being in charge of the invite list is that I get to control the “fun factor”. The game is one of the real highlights of my week, but every once in a while someone shows who takes the fun out of the experience. Believe me, “the regulars” are plenty competitive, many being former college athletes in a variety of sports, but the common denominator is that everyone there genuinely enjoys the camaraderie and has an absolute blast playing a game. If it was no fun, I wouldn’t wake up at 6:20 am every Sunday – but I barely need to set an alarm I look so forward to it.
When I was down in DC for the Project Play event a few years back, I met some really fun people. But – I also met the FUN PEOPLE – literally. Dr. Amanda Visek and Heather Manning from George Washington University have turned Fun into an actual science. And – they have been able to quantify – what most of us trusted instinctually as qualifiable. They’ve allowed me to share their Fun Maps, a recent publication they prepared for the US Olympic Committee. I think their work is extremely important. The following, which appears at the end of the article links directly to the work we’re trying to do at 2-4-1 Sports:
It is commonly known that attrition from youth sport is high – as high as 70% by the age of 13. Recent trends also indicate that more and more kids are dropping out of team sports. Both alarming and staggering, these statistics are largely attributable to negative sport experiences. In fact, the number one reason kids cite for dropping out of youth sport is because it is “no longer fun” and the primary reason they continue to play is because it “is fun”.
I know what you cynics are saying. But, for everyone else. Think about it. 7 out of 10 kids have stopped playing!! Read it again – 7 out of 10 kids have stopped playing!! That’s incredibly sad and incredibly significant. If your child is one of the lucky 3 survivors, good for you – but let’s do something about the other 7.
The entire report can be found HERE and is a worthy read for anyone that is interested in putting FUN back in youth sports and looking to raise a physically literate community.
It was a not so long ago Friday evening as the sun was setting on the 12th inning of an intense local high school baseball game I was lucky enough to be enjoying when one of the player’s dads looked to me and said, “These kids are having so much fun”. I smiled back and said without flinching, “It’s no fun if it’s no fun.”. As if right on cue, his son bunted home the winning run. It’s become a mantra of sorts that I hope you will consider at least sharing with your children and those you know involved in youth sports. Because think about it. It’s trite, it’s cliche, and it may even be a little awkward, but admit it. “It’s no fun if it’s no fun!”
Hope you have a chance to get out and have some fun yourself in the days to come!
About Steve Boyle
Steve is the Executive Director of 2-4-1 CARE, Inc and Co-Founder/Director of 2-4-1 Sports -- a signature program of 2-4-1 CARE-- whose flagship program is held at the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Conn. but now has locations throughout the United States and Canada. 2-4-1 was recognized by the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC as one of eight model programs in the United States for its approach to anti-specialization in youth sports. This led Steve to form the National Association of Physical Literacy – of which he is now Advisory Board Chair. Steve is also a founding member of the Quality Coaching Collective – an international group of activators around sport, movement and mindfulness. Lastly, through his role at CCG, Steve was the two-year Global Lead on Physical Literacy and Athletics for Whittle School & Studios (2018-20), which currently has campuses in Shenzhen, China and Washington, DC.