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As I've been learning about the problems with kids’ sports for this issue’s Healthy Kids section, the one thing I heard over and over from parents was the sense that it’s kind of a hopeless situation — they talk of remarkable displays of poor sportsmanship by kids and adults, of poor coaching that made a whole season a waste of time, of a lack of confi dence that rec leagues are “enough” for their kids. They complain that “moving up” to elite leagues brings crazy travel schedules and the trauma of try-outs and cuts. It’s hardly surprising that studies indicate that most kids opt out of sports altogether by the time they’re 13. Most parents don’t seem to have any idea where to start to make things better.

But then I had the good fortune to interview Gonzaga University director of men’s basketball, Dr. Jerry Krause, about the revolutionary — he would say evolutionary — youth sports campaign Be Like Coach. Based on UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s principle that good coaching is good teaching, the group aims to bridge the gap between what youth sports are and what they could be.

“We don’t want to have it be a battle,” Krause told me. “But we do want to do what’s right for kids.”

I hope you’ll learn something from reading all about the state of youth sports, including the exciting Be Like Coach pilot programs. Krause also offered this bit of wisdom for anxious parents: “The best thing you can ever do is say, ‘I love watching you play.’”

To your health!

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