How profit-orientated school sport is becoming is creating mental health issues and unbalanced young players. And the professional game is having to deal with the consequences, says New Zealand Cricket Players Association Chief Executive Officer Heath Mills.
Mills has been worried about the state of the school sports system for some years now and the issue recently came to a head. It was reported that the Auckland 1A 1st XV players were thinking about repeating a year just to see if they could rouse a scout’s interest.
Mills said that the game has seen professionalisation slowly creeping into school organisations for some time now, with professional coaches and teams being spotted around Under-18s. He mentioned the broadcasting of matches, too, which invariably leads to critical assessments of children’s performances.
He said that this is causing the kinds of issues that are being dealt with at the professional sports level by pro athletes getting transferred down to kids as young as 15. Mills explained that being in the public domain and constantly getting your performance assessed is tough even for hardened All Blacks, Black Caps, and All Whites, let alone someone still underage.
Mills said that dealing with the fallout from these circumstances is difficult and that the NZCPA spends a lot of time trying to help players overcome it, and these are athletes who started experiencing it at 18- or 19-years old.
As damning an indictment as this is, Mills is going public with his message because he wants to start a national conversation about what’s going on.
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