You are going to hate me for saying this. My friends, family, and people I don’t even know won’t like it.
I think childhood sports are a bit out of control. I think they are interfering with academics and take up too much of a parent’s time.
There I said it. I feel better for putting that out there. I know many will disagree and that is fine, we are all entitled to our opinion—maybe it will spur a few comments at the bottom of the blog this week?
Is it just me or do you wonder what has happened to childhood sports over the past twenty, thirty years?
Back in the day, my friends and I would ride our bikes to a park district led “Ponytail Softball” league. We would play our games and ride home. Not one parent coached. I don’t think any parent came to watch us…ever. My friends and I “learned” about teamwork, competition, the value of exercise and independence. Above all it was fun!
It’s just too much!
Today I talk with friends who are parents and when it comes to kids’ sports it is so stressful. It is all about the practices, games, schedules, traveling teams, parent coaching, snacks, team shirts, team photos, and team celebrations. There is an incredible amount of time sunk into these sports and an increasing level of competition built into every activity.
I admit with three children we began to buy in. I even paid my parental dues by coaching basketball four years. By most people’s standards we were not heavily involved in sports. Still, it seemed like a lot. We had to get some balance back before it got to out of hand. We set some limits.
I am not against sports.
There is no doubt that sports have so many benefits. It is when they start to overtake other areas such as academics or parental involvement that I think the benefit starts to outweigh its usefulness. At school, children I worked with would tell me they didn’t have time to read because they had “fill-in the blank-- with a sport” the night before. It was a standard response. Teachers say they hear it a lot. Are parents aware that we are unconsciously sending these messages to kids: schoolwork can take a backseat to sports?
Look at the trends in the news:
• Doctors treating more children for overuse injuries
• Parents holding back or “red-shirting “ kindergarteners for academics but also sports advantages
• Churches are reporting low attendance, one factor -families sports schedules
• School boards that approve funding for Astroturf instead of textbooks
• Cuts to education but not pay-to-play for sports
I have had friends tell me that their child burned out of football by high school, he had played so much as a child. Others say they feel pressured to get their kids to pick a sport and specialize otherwise their child won’t be able to compete with kids in the community who were playing since age 4. One cheer parent was concerned that her second grader won’t make the high school team. What I am trying to say is...everything in moderation.
Maybe you don't hate what I have had to say...maybe you agree? What do you think about children’s sports? Have you ever stressed about it? Has it ever interfered with school or funding for educational services? I am ready for your comments! Tweet, share, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org