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Sports Done Right
A model program created at the University of Maine aims to improve the overall athletic experience for today's youth
|by Karen Hawkes
February 1, 2008
Each year, we witness incidents in professional and collegiate sports that cause us to question the integrity of these programs. These negative trends have continued to filter down into the youth sports experience. As a result, the number of young student-athletes dropping out of sports by the time they reach high school has continued to rise, as does the need for reform.
In the fall of 2003, the University of Maine received a federal allocation secured through the office of Senator Susan M. Collins, to investigate the current status of interscholastic sports in Maine. The initiative was under the co-direction of J. Duke Albanese, co-director of Great Schools Partnership at the Senator George J. Mitchell Scholarship Research Institute and former Maine education commissioner, and Robert A. Cobb, former dean of the UMaine College of Education and Human Development. Understanding that such an important undertaking would demand expert knowledge and insight, an eighteen-member Select Panel was established. The Select Panel was responsible for discussing the common areas of concern and formulating a model that could not only be used in Maine communities, but by communities across the country, to improve the overall athletic experience for today’s youth.
On January 6, 2005, the University of Maine released Sports Done Right: A Call to Action on Behalf of Maine’s Student-Athletes. The report is centered around seven core principles and supporting core practices that describe what healthy sports programs look like.
The seven core principles along with a brief description are:
Over 200 Maine communities have expressed an interest in implementing Sports Done Right. In addition, hundreds of individuals across the country representing over 40 states have contacted the Maine Center for Sport and Coaching for more information. The high interest in Sports Done Right speaks to its timeliness and value.
Sports Done Right is a unique tool. All stakeholders including coaches, school officials, student-athletes, parents and community have a responsibility. In order for Sports Done Right to stick, community engagement and conversation must take place. Parents and community members need to understand what is acceptable, as do student-athletes, coaches and school officials. If each stakeholder understands the expectations and philosophy, a common language known as Sports Done Right will be embedded into the sports program.
No one said it would be easy. Change takes time and hard work. However, we owe it to the kids to finally take a stand and give the game back to its rightful owner. For more information about the Sports Done Right initiative, including a copy of the report, visit www.sportsdonerightmaine.org.
The following Sports Done Right resources can be found by visiting http://www.sportsdonerightmaine.org/resources.jsp?ContentType=SportsDoneRight:
About the author: Karen Hawkes is a former student-athelete who now serves as Director of the University of Maine Center for Sport and Coaching, headquarters for the Sports Done Right initiative.