The Young Athlete’s Bill of Rights

aaron youth soccer

Are we having fun? Yes, we are!

In fall, a parent’s heart turns to back-to-school.
And youth sports. Football. Soccer. Volleyball. Gymnastics.

We want our kids to participate in sport for so many reasons:

1) To keep them active and healthy
2) To teach them the value of teamwork
3) To help them learn to follow direction and coaching
4) To learn a lifelong activity
5) Because sport is fun

Often lost in the conversation is the kid’s point of view.

Courtesy of the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports (ISYS), here is their Young Athlete Bill of Rights. Read it. Digest it. Talk it over your spouse, partner, co-parent, significant other. If your local youth sports program falls short, please get involved to bring the program back onto a proper course, or find another sports program for your kid.

1. Right to participate in sports

2. Right to participate at a level commensurate with each child’s maturity and ability

3. Right to have qualified adult leadership.

4. Right to play as a child and not as an adult

5. Right of children to share in the leadership and decision-making of their sport participation

6. Right to participate in safe and healthy environments

7. Right to proper preparation for participation in sports

8. Right to an equal opportunity to strive for success

9. Right to be treated with dignity

10. Right to have fun in sports

Don’t ever forget, in 2012 and 2014, just 760 US athletes earned the right to call themselves Olympians. In 2012 alone, 18,000 men and women graduated from medical school and earned the right to call themselves an MD or a DO.
I have competed and coached at fairly high levels. What got me there happened in my teens. There is no need to expose young children to high pressure competition. Nothing is gained, and the risk is high that children will learn to hate sport and competition (The Olympics; a Slippery Slope for Parents). Let’s make sure our kids have a great sports experience.

Support the dream, but keep your feet on the ground. I’m rooting for you, rooting hard. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Please feel free to share this Bill of Rights. Just make sure to credit the original authors. Reprinted with permission from Guidelines for Children’s Sports, R. Martens and V. Seefeldt (Eds.), Washington, D.C. American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 1979.


The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at

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