Skip to content

Mike Matheny has a blog dedicated to changing the culture of youth sports

Mar 18, 2013, 11:02 AM EST

Mike Matheny Getty Getty Images

A few years ago Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wrote a letter to the parents of the little league team he was coaching at the time, decrying the culture of youth sports and, more specifically, the overbearing parents and insane coaches that were turning what should have been character-building learning experiences into a hyper competitive hellscape.

Last summer there was a lot of reporting about all of that. Specifically, that Matheny was still adamant about changing the culture of youth sports. And now he is continuing that, starting up a blog on his personal website dedicated to that cause. From his welcome letter:

I wrote a letter a few years ago that unintentionally went viral across the country. The purpose was to explain to a group of parents, that I saw a big problem in organized sports. Little did I know the impact that the letter would have on so many people. I realized that there is a need for a better way, and the ideas in that letter had struck a cord with many people who are ready for a change. Some follow up was necessary, so…, here we are.

This website is for people who want to use youth sports to impact kids and their communities. I plan on keeping fresh information and videos coming to this site that will challenge and encourage coaches, parents and aspiring athletes to use sports as a platform to develop character, and skills that are needed for success on the field and off. Thanks for your interest and I hope that you will keep coming back.

That’s pretty cool. And a pretty cool goal too. As a parent of kids just getting into various activities, I’m constantly shocked at how seriously everyone (i.e. parents) takes them (and it’s not just for the boys and sports. You should see the ballet studio Mookie goes to). There are many times I have hoped that my son in particular doesn’t get too into sports because of that noise. Which is kind of a shame because when I grew up I was able to play — and not be particularly good at — various sports without it seeming like I was an imposition or that some more talented kids’ dad was gonna freak out if slow old me was allowed to get some PT at his son’s expense. I worry now that’s something harder and harder to find.

So kudos to Matheny. Parents of non-participating kids can wring our hands about this sort of thing a lot, but not much will come of it. It could be a totally different deal if the necessary change comes from within sports rather than from outside of them.

  1. Francisco (FC) - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    You should see the ballet studio Mookie goes to

    What’s her WAR value?

    • zzalapski - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      Better question is, how gritty is she? Can she make it through a pas de deux if she has an owie on her knee?

  2. dluxxx - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Man, I loved little league. Granted it’s been a few years, but I remember that everyone got a chance to play, and we all had fun. I ran into a guy I played with years later and he seemed to remember me being pretty good, but that never really factored into anyting. I just had fun playing and hanging out wiht the other kids.

    One thing I do remember is that some of the parents used to ask my mom to go drive around the block when I was up to bad in critical situations. Apparently she was bad luck…

    • dluxxx - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      bat… Edit function would be nice.

      • alang3131982 - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        As a little leaguer who was once more or less attacked by an opposing team’s parents, i’ve seen this first hand — although i thought this was a totally isolated instance and hope it still is.

        In case you care what happened: This one father was raging on our team kind of bad, sort of making fun of us with bad plays. This was probably 6th/7th grade (it was player pitch, i think). Anyway, he said something about one of my good friends (who struck out the previous inning) as i was putting on my catcher’s mask behind the plate. I told him to shut-up (or some other foul language). Certainly, I was being disrespectful. However before i knew it he was holding me up by my chest protector. Thankfully, a few father’s on our team came rushing to my defense and pulled the father away.

        I dont remember much coming of it. I had to talk to the league about it and was given a free baseball. It didnt seem like a huge deal – it was over in a few seconds and the law was never involved (to my knowledge), but, people just crazy.

      • alang3131982 - Mar 18, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        *parent, “ragging”,

      • klingonj - Mar 19, 2013 at 6:06 AM

        I umpired for 20 years doing college as well as little leagues. some parents would get bad in the beginning but the good associations had game admins which umpires could direct the admin to quiet them down or remove them. I always felt bad for the loud mouth’s kids playing. They always semed so embarrassed by the parents. The kids played seemed to let it go after the game while certain parents woould lose sleep for weeks over stuff.

  3. barrywhererufrom - Mar 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    right on! have my baseball draft tonight for my son’s eight year old team. So many parents and coaches should check out the site/blog. It’s not about us its about the kids. I applaud Mattheny for comments!

    • cur68 - Mar 18, 2013 at 2:07 PM

      Good luck to little Barry in the draft. I hope he has a great season.

  4. abudanroman - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    ” There are many times I have hoped that my son in particular doesn’t get too into sports because of that noise. ”

    I completely agree. I feel guilty about it, but I have steered my oldest son out of little league for that very reason. We try and set up some sandlot games just for the fun of it, but even then, some parents expect that every game their child plays should go towards the goal of someday earning them a scholarship.

    Really sad.

    • klingonj - Mar 19, 2013 at 6:09 AM

      I am 58 y/o that remembers playing ball in the street / sandlot all through child hood (you come home when the street lights turn on). it was kids making selections, making the rules and figuring how to make things resolve themselves. I had no idea at the time what kind of life skills it would help all of us to achieve. I pity alot of todays kids, everything scheduled, no pickup games that lasted for weeks etc……………

  5. assuredsvcsllc - Mar 18, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Reblogged this on Welcome to Assured Services, LLC! and commented:
    This may be the most insightful blog I have ever seen for coaching youth sports. I’ve read a million strategic books and blogs, but this touches on the human side of kids and sports unlike anything else I have seen. Nice job Mr. Matheny! (Go Brewers!)

  6. Kevin of SportsDadHub - Mar 19, 2013 at 7:54 AM

    If you’re a fan of Matheny’s way of thinking, I invite you to join the community at http://www.SportsDadHub.com. I share tips, insights and stories about how to use your child’s love of sports as a vehicle to teach life lessons and form a lifelong bond with your kids.
    There are too many overbearing parents who don’t understand the true meaning and purpose of youth sports. SportsDadHub is a place for like minded sports parents who have their priorities straight.
    I hope to hear from you there.
    -Kevin

  7. indaburg - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:05 PM

    I’m late to this, but Matheny is my write-in choice for President.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Maddon has high hopes for Cubs
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. P. Sandoval (5815)
  2. J. Lester (3573)
  3. Y. Tomas (3518)
  4. H. Ramirez (3073)
  5. G. Stanton (2835)
  1. J. Upton (2653)
  2. A. LaRoche (2590)
  3. T. Hunter (2528)
  4. M. Scherzer (2271)
  5. B. Butler (2001)