Les jeunes lâchent le sport : la réalité derrière les statistiques

Dans un article (version anglaise) publié récemment dans les pages du Washington Post, Julianna W. Miner se penche sur les statistiques crève-cœur selon lesquelles sept jeunes sur dix abandonnent les sports organisés avant l’âge de 13 ans. (N.B. Il s’agit d’une statistique américaine de la National Alliance for Youth Sport; pour une perspective canadienne, lire cet article de la CBC.) Si ces chiffres vous atterrent, vous n’êtes pas seul. Mme Miner admet qu’elle ne faisait pas grand cas de ces probabilités défavorables, jusqu’à ce que son aîné approche de l’âge critique de 13 ans.

La présentation que fait Mme Miner des obstacles culturels, économiques et systémiques pour les préadolescents dans le sport organisé est extrêmement intéressante. Elle aborde chaque obstacle avec une belle honnêteté et une émotion manifeste.

La principale leçon de l’article est que le manque de plaisir dans le sport organisé se généralise depuis un moment, entraîné par un esprit compétitif qui mine le plaisir, dans le sport comme ailleurs. En effet, plus les enfants approchent de l’école secondaire, plus la pression de la « réussite », que ce soit en sport ou en art, s’intensifie. Tu n’as pas été sélectionné dans l’équipe? Change de sport. Tu n’as pas décroché le premier rôle? Aussi bien tout lâcher. Qu’on veuille l’admettre ou non, nous vivons dans un monde compétitif où l’idée de la réussite impose une pression aux enfants comme aux parents.

Comme le souligne Mme Miner, « le message sous-jacent voulant que « je dois être le meilleur, sinon j’ai échoué » est très malsain pour les enfants ». Que cette idée leur soit inculquée par une école centrée sur les examens ou par une spécialisation précoce dans un sport, elle leur est néfaste. Mélangez ce stress avec la tempête hormonale de la puberté, ajoutez une pincée de médias sociaux et une très grosse dose de pression des pairs, et vous avez la recette de l’abandon.

Certes, on ne changera pas du jour au lendemain notre manière de pratiquer le sport ou d’évaluer les élèves, mais les écoles, les associations sportives et les parents ont tous un rôle à jouer pour faire de la santé et du bonheur les grandes priorités.

Vous pouvez commencer dès aujourd’hui en laissant votre enfant essayer toutes sortes d’activités, en vous amusant avec eux, et en les aidant à développer le goût de s’améliorer. En changeant la définition de la réussite chez les moins de 13 ans de façon à mettre l’accent sur le plaisir et le jeu actif, nous donnons à nos enfants davantage de raisons de continuer à jouer.

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