In the 1960s, I played on a successful college soccer team that steadily improved its record, winning all but one game my senior year. It was a low-key, pleasant experience without too much attention to emotional or tactical challenges. My distinct feeling is that no teammates, including the most talented, had even a fleeting sense of gaining fame or fortune — overall, a distinctly different reality from the prevailing one.
While occasionally I’m nostalgic about my college athletic experience, its easy-going approach seems unrealistic in today’s hyped-up atmosphere. Since 2010 participation in American youth sports has exploded, becoming a huge business involving about 60 million American youths aged 6 to 18 in organized programs worth $19 billion.