Thursday, June 19, 2014

What Are We Doing to Our Kids?

I love watching sports (well, MOST sports...LIVE sports...but not golf, live OR on TV. Ugh. No, not golf.), particularly ones that my kids are participating in.

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?



It seems as though, if your child isn't involved/moving up with his peers on these competitive teams, that he/she will not evolve into a varsity level player, which means that when they enter high school, if they aren't involved from a young age, they will (most likely) sit on the bench...and how long does THAT stay fun? 

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! :)



6 comments:

  1. Love this post! Both of my kids are playing this year one in tball and other in Bantam ball. We only have one practice each a week but the next level up practice a few times a week. But heck even at current ball levels the kids parents are super competitive and some have their kids decked out in all the fancy expensive gear that most of the families on the team could never afford but yet all the other kids think they aren't good enough to play without it.. Its a crazy thing yet I am like you not sure what the answer is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my have I had this exact conversation with friends over and over.... I think the solution stems with us parents. We have to be willing to stand up, to be weird, to say no and get critized. We have thought about a letter to the AD, or a parent meeting that has a safe place to voice these concerns as well as with towards a solution... Keep talking. Keep brainstorming. And more than anything, keep fighting for family!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have been reading some good books about this lately. The system is soooo deeply rooted, it seems tough to tackle the beast. But I agree with the Stacy (above)---it does come down to parents saying no. We have with our child a couple times---just said no, he is not "moving up" to be more competitive--he is going to stay a kid. The goal of youth activities should be to have fun and develop at their age-appropriate level---in that order. It's a tough conversation with an even tougher "fix..." of there is one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think you just have to stand your ground. Know where you will draw the line in saying no, and stick with it, even when people question you on it.

    LONG before Drew and I ever had kids, we decided we'd have a 1 sport per season, no travel teams rule. We knew we wanted a handful of kids, and didn't want to run the family ragged with going from sport to sport. We've already had people question us and push a us a little on it, and we only have Brayden in sports AND HE'S FIVE. I'll be the first to admit that it does seem easy to stroke my own pride since I love hearing that B is great at sports and he'd be great in "xyz" league, but it doesn't help ANYONE in our family, even the one who's playing.

    AND all that being said... you have to do what works for your family. I have friends who have chosen the competitive leagues and the travel teams and they love it and seem close. I can't chose what they do with their family time, and it's not my role to judge how they do things. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yay Stacy!
    And Mama M., great post- to your point about having sports and fitness options for kids who aren't playing Varisty or "specialists"- Amen! I didn't realize until I was in my 30s (!) that PE should be for fun! That it should be a total noncompetitive blast, where you can try a bunch of sports or games and burn off some energy and spend positive time with peers. If you pick up some skills great, but the point is to have a positive experience with fitness: no grades and no pressure. How wonderful if our schools and community groups could provide this- so our children can consider fitness as a fun part of everyday life. There are lots of cooperative options- we didn't go through the 1970' for nothin'- as well as creative/group projects (like dance, trail clearing, gardening, trash pickup). Yay to all the parents trying to foster kid-friendly, playful fitness options in their communities.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A few years ago my life became sports for exactly four months. Baseball for 12 hours a week and soccer for 5. Every single weeknight and every Saturday. It got to the point that my kids were begging me to let them skip practices and games. They just wanted to have time that wasn't scheduled. I decided then that if my kids never wanted to be on a team again I was OK with that. We haven't signed them up for anything since. We play paintball as a family, we mountain bike, we hike, we play football in the backyard, toss a baseball around... It may not be ideal because they'll probably never be able to play in high school because they won't have lived and breathed any sport for their entire lives, but this way they still get exercise, they still get family time, they still get to church every week and we still have dinner together every night. If my kids ever ask to be on a team I won't say no unless there are games or practices on Sundays, but so far they haven't asked. So I think we'll continue as is until they change theirs minds - if they do. For now I love that we are in control of our time - not the sports.

    ReplyDelete

I love comments! And, I welcome your thoughts that aren't in agreement with mine...as long as they are respectful!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

This Template was custom created by Bloggy Blog Designz Copyright 2010