Former New York Yankees Mark Teixiera and Former New York Giants Howard Cross Featured in Youth Sports Discussion

By Danielle McCartan (@CoachMcCartan and on Facebook)

LITTLE FALLS, NJ- In conjuction with New York University’s Tisch Instiute for Sports Management, Media, and Business, six panelists at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center offered their insight in Enriching the youth sports experience. Experts in their respective fields offered insight and advice to a sold out crowd of coaches, parents, and young athletes during a panel discussion entitled: “Enriching the Youth Sports Experience”. The panel featured recently retired World Series winning New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixiera and former Super Bowl winning New York Giants tight end Howard Cross.
Topic 1: Bullying and Hazing
160,000 kids per day stay home from school to avoid being bullied. Unfortunately, after school sports activities have proven to be a breeding ground for these types of unacceptabile behaviors.  According to the sports psychologist on the panel, based on her experience, the number one reason why kids play sports is to have fun. Shockingly, winning is the #10 reason why kids play sports. Parents and coaches must understand those facts clearly. Howard Cross’ son, as a high school sophomore, has already been recruited by the Maryland football program.  Stunningly, Cross said he “kept kis kid off the ‘A-team’ until he got too big to stay down.” His son, as he explained, is now 6’2″ and weighs 220 pounds. However, Cross added that when playing sports at a young age, “you just teach them [that] its important to enjoy [the sport] and [to] have fun and be there for [their] teammates”.
When coaches set expectations about team behavior from the beginning, everyone involved understands.   Mark Teixiera takes a hard and fast route: “There should be a zero tolerance policy. Kids are going to do dumb things. But, what kids are looking for is structure- ‘show me the right thing to do’.  If adults can teach the kids the right thing to do, kids need to understand the boundaries and [that] there is no tolerance. Kids need to understand that when the season starts. Then, they will follow te lead [put forth by the coach]”.  Conversely, “if you have a group of kids and they don’t know what’s expected of them, of course [bad things are] going to happen”.
Major League Baseball, in its new collective bargaining agreement, just “implement[ed] an Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy as a supplement to the Workplace Code of Conduct.”  Plainly, there will be no rookie hazing.  The most common form of this is when teammates make the rookies on the roster dress up in ridiculous costumes and complete various tasks.  To illustrate this point, below is a tweet from George Kontos, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants depicting some of the players dressed up in Times Square.

 After taking an audience question, the panel deferred to recently retired MLB superstar Teixiera for his opinion on this matter. I tweeted his response immediately.

 

Topic 2: What Can Parents Do?

Respect for the coach is paramount. Parents must trust that the coach knows what he or she is doing, whether he or she is a hired coach or a volunteer coach. Cross put it bluntly:  “If your kids are playing sports, back off! Please be quiet!”  Mark Teixiera added: “If I’m not willing to coach the team, I’m not going to say anything. I say thank you to the coach after the game… even if he did a terrible job!” There is no doubt that your kids are observing their parents’ behaviors. If kids see their parents modeling positive behavior, especially towards a coach and/or a referee, there is no doubt that action is going to set up a positive and constructive team climate.

To avoid getting over-involved in sports, parents must understand the expectations before they register their children. Cross explains: “Understand the expectations. In recreation, everyone plays. If they have to try out and they dont make the team, it is a learning experience.” He went on to explain that if your son or daughter does not make the team, you have to understand that “failure is the labratory of success”. With a smile, adding a personal anecdote, Cross said: “My mom always used to tell me: you cant learn to fight until you get beat up… and I got beat up once. Just once”.
Topic 3: The success mindset
Players, coaches, and parents must be honest with themselves. Very few children are going to play professional sports. On the NCAA website, there is a chart depicting  the percentages of NCAA athletes that end up becoming professional athletes (pictured below).  No sport has higher that 9.7% of their collegiate athletes involved in professional athletics.
Panelists at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, including former World Series winning New York yankees first baseman Mark Teixiera and Former New York Giants Super Bowl winning Tight End Howard Cross
Teixiera told the audience: “The most important thing we can tell our kids is to work hard and to do your best. If you give it everything you have, you work your hardest, your natural talent will take you as far as you can go. ” He also suggested that if a kid doesn’t make the team, it is important that “they … find something else [to do]”.  Cross echoed that sentiment: “It’s okay for them to not make the team. You have to find little things to make kids happy.” Sometimes, unfortunately, kids are just playing sports to appease their parents or coaches. As Coach Cross, he told a story of how he told “one kid, Jimmy, to find one thing every day to make him smile.” By doing this, that made football practice more enjoyable for uninterested Jimmy. Adding an anecdote from his MLB career, Teixiera said that he has no regrets: “when I retired, I left with a smile.”
For more information about the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center’s upcoming events, visit their website: http://yogiberramuseum.org
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