Snack Rewards in Youth Sports
My son really enjoys playing youth soccer. He loves practices and games. He is learning to be a part of a team, and to follow the coach’s instructions. Our son is not a standout in the six and under division, but he enjoys participating and I support his participation in youth sports. I loathe the after game snack requirement.
When I was a kid I remember having orange slices at half time. For multi game tournament I recall packing a granola bar and a sandwich to snack on. That is not what is expected in today’s youth sports. After every game my child receives a “goodie bag” filled with processed food and sugar. Why do I have to be the enemy parent who disagrees with cheese-it's and teddy grams as appropriate post-game fuel. Juice boxes, ring pops, goldfish and fruit snacks are junk food items that are completely off limits in our house. I am not so rigid as to never allow my children to eat these things, but it is not an every day occurrence. Even once a week as a treat is too frequent for my liking. I wish I never had to fight this fight. The after game snack for a u6 sporting event just seems completely unnecessary. Are there any parents our there who agree?!
It is not just post-game snacks either. My son has walked away from practice with snacks too, and often times there are snacks for munching on while kids are being subbed out of the game. I was embarrassed when the coach called my son over to go in the game and he resisted because was having too much fun snacking on the sideline. The snacks have become an extrinsic motivator, and a way to placate kids on the sidelines. We are teaching young children confusing messages about why they are dressed in uniform.
There are some alternatives. When it’s my turn to bring snack, I quietly fight the norm and send my child with sliced fruit. Juice boxes are not really necessary when every child has a water bottle so there is no shame in leaving the Gatorade out of the snack bag. Popcorn is a kid friendly option that most parents also support. Carrot sticks, nuts, or cheese sticks can also be good choices.
Most schools have banned homemade items like cupcakes because students with food allergies could be in danger. Many parents believe that homemade items are likewise not appropriate post-game consumables. However youth sports teams have much smaller numbers to accommodate, so its can be beneficial to start a conversation with your child’s coach. Inquire about food allergies on the team, and ask if a homemade item is appropriate for snack.
If I can’t end the post-game snack requirement all together at least I can offer some healthy alternative to processed food:
- Protein Bites - Earth Fed Muscle Whey Protein, Ground Oatmeal, Milk, Mini chocolate chips
- Beef Jerky – Homemade in a dehydrator or purchased from North Mountain Pastures. Super healthy and kid friendly
- Trail Mix – nuts, seeds, chocolate chips (if desired)
- Fruit Leather – strawberries, applesauce, blend and dehydrate
- Gummy Candies – Fruit juice, gelatin. Cook to dissolve and pour into molds.
I hope to post more detailed recipes in the coming weeks. Please let me know in the comments: Do you support post-game snacks in youth sports? Do you think they have gone too far?
Thanks for reading!