In an era of sports when trash talking, win-at-all-cost mentalities and fights on the field seem to be the norm, it's no wonder that 70 percent of U.S. children playing organized sports will quit by age 13 and never play again.
McDuffie County kids and families, believing that sports can be a positive experience, are participating in an unconventional youth sports league which teaches that the process of competition is just as important as the outcome.
For seven years First Baptist Church, Thomson, has hosted basketball leagues through Upward Sports -- the world's largest Christian sports league for children -- coaching and mentoring over 130 McDuffie County kids.
"Kids seem to really grow in an environment that builds character, instills confidence, teaches about Jesus, and focuses on skills, sportsmanship, teamwork and integrity...all while having fun," said Mark Jenkins, a volunteer coach of the Upward Sports basketball league at First Baptist Church. "I've never been a part of such a fun and rewarding program."
Focusing on healthy competition and positive sports environments that build strong self-confidence, Upward Sports equips churches with everything needed to run a competitive but fun, 12-week sports program for children 1st -- sixth grade.
Each year, more than 1 million people from 46 states and four countries play, coach, referee or volunteer in Upward Sports leagues.
To avoid player and parent burn out, Upward Sports limits time commitments to one practice and one game per week.
Other distinctive aspects of Upward Sports leagues include:
Unique substitution system designed to provide every child equal playing time, competing against an equally matched opponent
Competitive games with strict adherence to a proprietary drafting system that guarantees balanced talent on each team
Supportive coaches that bring out "the winner" in every child regardless of the game's score