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Youth Sports: Returning to the Roots

At the turn of the 20th century, many national leaders began to advocate for the use of sport in improving the lives and development of children. Presidents and statesmen proclaimed the virtues of sport in building a strong nation. Educators and clergy issued edicts heralding the importance of sports in building social skills among children. Sport was viewed as an instrument to teach competition, cooperation, leadership, morals, and initiative. The thought is that sport would further develop positive self-concept as well as independence.

And so in 1903, General George W. Wingate and Dr. Luther H. Gulick collaborated with the New York City school system to introduce sports for male students to their curriculum. This was the first, adult-organized youth sports program in the United States. Sadly, as soon as the mid-1930s, there were concerns regarding an overemphasis on winning versus development, resulting in physical and emotional strain. By the 1940s, many national groups began voicing their own concerns.

Organizations (including The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, The National Education Association, Department of Elementary Education Association, and Department of Elementary School Principals) all issued individual statements regarding their concerns for the direction of sport. Unfortunately, these concerns were largely ignored as youth sport organizations moved from the schools and into the private sector.

Since this time, youth sports have continued to change. Thankfully, these opportunities are mostly awarded to both boys and girls, but not without growing concerns on the impact of these same sports on the growth and development of children. We are all aware of the negative connotations of youth sports: win at all costs, state and national rankings, getting that Division I scholarship, pay to play, a coach’s personal legacy, fighting on the sidelines, cheating, etc. But sport still has the potential to significantly improve the lives of its participants, children AND parents alike!

Sport still has the capability of building strong independent leaders, social skills, lasting friendships, competitive values, stress management, academic skills, as well as the tools to possibly turn professional. As you will see across our website, Philmont FC agrees with the most recent research that the best athletes are also the best “thinkers” of the game, and it is this skill set that can improve academic performance as well!

All children should have the right to participate in youth sports and experience its many benefits. We at Philmont FC are proud to continue the initial legacy of youth sports. But unlike the initial organizations, our program recognizes the importance of a training strategy that is based on the UNIQUELY INDIVIDUAL NEEDS of players. Because no one should ever be denied the values and training strategies sport provides because they aren’t “good enough” at a young age.

If you are interested in learning more or would like to get involved, please email us at!


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