There?s a Reason it?s Called ?Playing? Sports!

There?s a Reason it?s Called ?Playing? Sports!

What do you love about playing sports? Is it the comradery you develop with your teammates? The feeling of accomplishment and excitement when you hear the cheers from the sidelines after a touchdown, hit, goal or catch? Or is because you feel like a kid again, outside, getting dirty and barely noticing how tired you are until the final whistle is blown? If you?re like me, it?s all of the above. There?s a reason it?s called ?playing? sports. It?s supposed to be fun which usually means we want to do it again and again!

Now, if you weren?t enjoying it, would you continue spending your precious free time playing golf, tennis, soccer or anything else for that matter? No. So is it any surprise that the main reason up to 70% of kids quit sports by the time they?re thirteen* is that they aren?t having fun. By allowing the win-at-all cost culture of adult sports to invade the sanctity of our youth programs we?ve turned kicking a ball around with friends into something that?s often dreaded instead of the highlight of the week. It doesn?t matter if they?re four or fourteen, if they aren?t excited to go, they?ll quit as soon as you let them and statistically speaking they?ll be less active for the rest of their lives.

When my daughter was almost four, I took her to a youth soccer game to see if she wanted to join a program. Unfortunately, we witnessed the scene that has become so prevalent in the news and YouTube videos. A ?bad call? (keep in mind, these are 7-8 year olds) quickly escalated to a screaming match between coaches, then spread to parents and ultimately led to a flying orange that narrowly missed the guilty official?s head. All the while, kids stood silent, embarrassed, soaking up the example. On the ride home, I felt slightly ashamed that I had not intervened in some way; even if only to show my daughter that I disagreed with the behavior. Needless to say, I decided to look for an alternative program. A little research brought me to i9 Sports. Their whole mission and everything about their programs is designed to ?help kids succeed in life through sports?, by creating an environment that values the whole experience for the parent and child over the scoreboard. Bingo!

After speaking with dozens of i9 Sports Program Directors around the country, I decided to open i9 Sports here in Fairfax County and the response from parents has been phenomenal! I have to say, I was a bit nervous that the competitive culture might be so engrained, parents would scoff at our emphasis on fun over winning and sportsmanship over all-stars. I couldn?t have been more mistaken. In just one year, hundreds of families joined our programs and have become our biggest promoters. Kids who have never felt comfortable playing team sports are thriving right alongside the seasoned athletes who usually embrace a leadership role. The weekly sportsmanship medal so coveted that that kids go out of their way to demonstrate the value of the week, reinforcing to parents how much more you can get out of team sports than a win or a loss.

In addition to our emphasis on fun, i9 Sports works to overcome the other reasons kids drop out of team sports or avoid them altogether. With today?s busy families, it?s getting even harder for moms and dads to get multiple kids to multiple practices each week plus games on weekends. That?s why i9 Sports has a strict one-day per week policy. The practice is held right before the game so they can immediately apply their newly acquired skills. And we couldn?t be more excited about our partnership with Sport and Spine Rehab. SSR will help us create the safest environment possible by providing parents, coaches and kids with guidelines to minimize injuries that would keep players off the field.

To learn more about i9 Sports, visit and whether you join one of our programs or not, we hope you?ll join our effort to bring the fun back to youth sports!


Todd Peterson, Program Director ? i9 Sports Central and Northern Fairfax County

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