For many youth sports athletes, especially the younger ones, the snack served after a game or practice is the highlight.
When I was younger, my snack consisted of a couple of orange slices and a yellow Gatorade. Back then, there was only one brand of sports drink and one flavor of it. But the bottom line is both the snack and drink were relatively healthy. It was a far fetch from one I saw handed out last weekend:
A six-pack of Oreos and a soda followed by a big Tootsie Roll. I kid you not.
The halftime snack, which was intended to provide a quick, nutritious energy boost, has disappeared. Instead, it has been replaced by elaborate post-game spreads. It has become an unofficial competition among parents to see what snacks can put the biggest smiles on kids’ faces. And no kid wants to be the child of the parent who provides carrot sticks after the big game.
I asked a mother what her least favorite part of youth sports is so far this season, thinking it might be all the COVID-19 protocols. Her answer: The snacks.
“I don’t understand why we are giving these young kids cookies and soda, usually right before lunch, dinner, or bedtime,” she proclaimed. “Or any snack for that matter. They don’t need it. They all carry their own water bottles and all the families I know will eat lunch or dinner right after the game.”
That being said, snacks can still be distributed, but keep healthy choices in mind.
Since banning snacks will never happen, leagues or teams should consider publishing a list of acceptable snacks (like a bag of pretzels and a juice box). In addition to improving the nutritional value of what’s offered, the list would eliminate the health-conscious parents from becoming unpopular when it’s their turn to provide the snack.
I’m the first to admit I love an Oreo chased by a soda, even now as an adult. But since the players never share their snacks anyway, we might as well provide a healthy one.
One that is on the acceptable list.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years with perspectives as a parent, coach and board member. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.