Bob Cook, who writes the youth sports blog “Your Kid’s Not Going Pro” (a personal favorite), sent us some links about youth sports mania in Asia. This article from Joong Ang Daily talks about “Kim Yu-na kids, ” whose parents’ deep personal sacrifice and single-minded dedication aimed at making their children into the next Kim Yu-na even affect family planning:
“My husband and I actually had a plan to have a second child, but changed our mind when our daughter began to skate. I’m well aware that it would cost a lot of time and money to raise a skating child, and that is why we decided not to have another child for the time being, and instead, to focus our resources on supporting Bo-min,” Shon said
In Bob’s take on the story, he points out that one’s expert opinion that it takes a certain level of prosperity to have this kind of obsession with youth sports. I think that’s true to an extent, seeing how South Korean skaters, both in short track and figure skating, have done well as South Korea modernized, as well as Taiwan’s little leaguers who had a long dominant run in the Little League world series in the 70’s and 80’s.
Taiwan’s long run of Little League World Series wins shows that youth sports mania have been around in Asia for some time. What might be new is a statistic about abusive behavior in youth sports in Asia directed toward coaches and referees. A poll by Reuters says that while the US leads in the number of people who say that they have seen abusive behavior in youth sports games (60% – a figure that both Bob and myself find low), India trails the US closely with 59% of those surveyed saying that they saw abusive behavior. An commenter on Bob’s post on this subject is skeptical about the data for India. I’m not so sure. In my experience watching and coaching youth sports, I have seen Indian parents yell at coaches and referees. They were pretty tame, though, compared to the Asian (non-Indian) parent I saw throw chairs at a volleyball game. Let’s hope that Asians don’t catch up to the US in this area.