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Youth Sports Continue To Dominate The Landscape In Westchester

While parents often hope to earn scholarships for their kids, less than four percent of kids who play varsity earn a college scholarship. Photo Credit: File Photo
Rick Wolff believes 15 percent of all parents behave badly when it comes to youth sports. Photo Credit: File Photo

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- For many parents in Westchester, youth sports are part of daily life.

From driving kids to soccer practice or helping coach a baseball team, youth sports have become a way of life in Westchester. Municipalities from White Plains to  Yorktown all offer programs and many schools begin sports in 7th grade.

Armonk resident Rick Wolff, host of the Sunday morning "Sports Edge" radio show  on WFAN that focuses on youth sports, said he has seen a shift in since the 1960s. Before that kids, he said, just played for fun, but now parents see a real value in scholarships and going pro.

"No one ever worried about making a travel team," Wolff said. "College scholarships were a pipe dream."

Wolff believes the rise in revenue for sports has caused parents to take notice.

"The stakes are higher and higher," Wolff said. "Parents get involved and now they are getting in the coach's face."

Despite awareness programs and attempts to curb poor parent behavior, Wolff believes 15 percent of all sports parents take things a little too far.

Wolff fears varsity sports are becoming downgraded in favor of elite travel teams where there is no regulation. But Wolff sees a backlash developing.

"Kids are starting to say they would rather play with their friends," Wolff said. "If someone wants to recruit me, they can recruit me off my high school team. "

According to the NCAA, less than four percent of high school varsity athletes are good enough to earn an athletic scholarship.

John Bauerlein, the athletic director at Pleasantville High School, said Pleasantville is a community that embraces youth sports.

In Pleasantville, organizations like AYSO and Dad's Club coordinate schedules so kids can play multiple sports.

Bauerlein said most Pleasantville parents behave themselves.

"I find the parents that are over the top are the ones that live through their son or daughter," Bauerlein said. "Maybe they didn't have quite the experience (playing sports), so they are putting the pressure on them. The best thing parents can do is be supportive."

Bauerlein said his mom was one of those parents who would yell at the officials.

"I was afraid to say that was my mom," Bauerlein said. "It was embarrassing. My brother is the same way. When I go watch my nephew play, I can't sit near him."

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