We encourage our children's involvement in activities, and we also try to maintain a healthy balance of faith and family as well. But...BUT, what is happening to our youth leagues? When did they become so...COMPETITIVE and EXCLUSIVE???
More and more I'm seeing these young kids "specializing" in a sport (as in, it's the ONLY one they'll play...ALL YEAR LONG) that is becoming more and more competitive. Our community offers a summer baseball program, has for years. When our oldest was in it, it was simply a fun activity. Along the lines of a "pick up" game of baseball. Show up, play ball, giggle at the silly mistakes the kids made, chat with parents, go home.
Now? Sure, it's still fun...but now there are twice a week practices, on the opposite days of the games, WAY more cheering/rooting/"go get 'em" parent behavior and you know what? I miss "the old days". The "pick up" days of sporting activities.
Then, our second oldest son is on a traveling baseball team. (Replete with tryouts to make the team.) So, add in those practices/games and OH MY GOSH. What have we done to ourselves? It's like baseball, 24/7 (x 3 with our three boys!!) The travel team games are all weekend tournaments...and not a single one of them leaves time on Sunday mornings for church...heck, we're lucky if we can try to squeeze in a Saturday evening mass, with the games on Saturdays, as well.
Here's what I'm seeing, and what concerns me (and I'm just a guilty as the next for allowing it)...sports teams that are becoming more exclusive at a younger and younger age and "team time" cutting into family/faith time and becoming the priority. (Even the "just for fun" teams.) And why?
Why are we treating these kids like they're all mini professional athletes? I mean, let's be honest...how many of these kids will even play a sport at a collegiate level much less become professionals? VERY FEW. So why do we put up with it? With these demands to have kids so involved? So "super scheduled"? So "sports over family" oriented?
What are we doing to our families by running our ever loving butts off day in and day out, missing meals, high fiving our spouses in crossing as we each race a different kid to a different sport? Why?
I fully know and accept that I (me, myself and I...well, and my husband) am responsible for saying "yes" to our boys being involved...but I am also fully aware of the importance of involvement in activities/sports for youth. Especially living in a small town where a teenager's options are: 1. Sports involvement or 2. Partying. I'll gladly take what's behind door number 1, but goodness. Can there be a better balance?
How do you keep a kid involved when all they do is sit on the bench? And I'm NOT saying that all kids deserve a chance to play on varsity teams...heck no, varsity is varsity and your best players play. I get that. But it seems as though, if you don't make the commitment to a sport at a young age, that your child will be warmin' the bench when they get to high school.
And then we wonder why there is an obesity epidemic...when we are making these teams so exclusive at such a young age. Used to be that we had time when we were younger. Time to meet up with neighborhood kids and play kickball or baseball or tag and run around and burn energy (energy = calories). Now? Now we're discouraging mediocre kids from playing sports because we're only selecting the very best. So what's a mediocre kid to do but go home, play video games and eat Doritos when he's not good enough to make a team?
Maybe that's a little dramatic...or is it? When you've got a class of 200 and you select 12 of the very best to play on a team. What about the rest? What else are their options?
I don't have any answers...I wish I did. All I know is that I'd love nothing more than for there to be a healthy balance between activities and faith/family. A greater respect for honoring and respecting family values over sporting events.
If anyone has the answers, please, speak up! :)