LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- The Positive Coaching Alliance is a nationwide organization started at Stanford University 20 years ago. Its members are trying to make a positive difference in youth sports.
Forty million kids play sports nationwide. Coaches and parents can make or break their experience.
Amy Manson is a youth coach, a former professional athlete, a parent and is now part of Positive Coaching Alliance.
"The whole mission of Positive Coaching Alliance is to change the culture of youth sports to really bring it back to what it's supposed to be: a development zone for better athletes and better people. I just feel really passionate about giving them tools and information to help them to be the best coach or sports parents and just letting kids enjoy it. We will partner with youth sports organizations where we will come in and show videos and give to parents, coaches, athletes to teach them the role they play to make this a great experience for everyone," she said.
Manson said youth sports have become big business, which may be one reason parents get so heated, as they did in Lakewood over the weekend.
"When I saw the video, it broke my heart. If we are teaching life lessons and teaching character, those kids were taught the wrong things that day. That is just heartbreaking," she said, referring to the brawl.
Manson wonders how many of those kids will drop out. Experts say 70% of kids quit organized sports by the age of 13 because it's just not fun.
"I would not be surprised if that was the last baseball game some of those kids play. We lose opportunity with those kids to teach those great character traits and life lessons that could've been taught from the sport. There is something funny about youth sports with the adults, we seem to get emotional and caught up and get excited about it. There is really a lot of discipline in holding that emotion back and keeping the big picture in mind. And what is this about? Kids having fun and developing and making friends and persevere," Manson said.
Positive Coaching Alliance offers workshops, tools and online resources. They produced a public service announcement called "Dare to Chill." The actor in the video said, "Sounds crazy, I know, but studies show kids perform better, play later in life and enjoy sports more when their parents are bold enough to chill out."
Manson said it may be hard to do, but parents and coaches need to trust the research and let kids play.
"When we start to focus in on the just winning and win-at-all-costs mentality, a lot of the really important character and life lessons get thrown out the window," she said.