Travel Sports: Passion or Business, Democracy or Dictatorship

Travel Sports: Passion or Business, Democracy or Dictatorship

Travel Sports have caused much discussion in our home as of late.

On the one hand, there is appreciation that two of our three children are able to participate in what many around the country, not to mention the world, would consider a "luxury" at best and "ridiculous" at worst.

On the other hand, I often contemplate the purpose of it all.

The Soul to Soul Perspective is, of course, that there are multiple valid perspectives on this topic.

My desire here is to dissect it all a bit further and offer a few changes in perception that could be mutually beneficial for all involved—children, parents and clubs.

There is no doubt that there is much JOY and GROWTH to be had from competitive sports—an opportunity to experience what the physical body has the capacity to reveal, as well as what it means to focus, prioritize and commit to offering your highest potential to a particular process. I see this firsthand in my husband's work as a high school coach, through my children's desire to express themselves on the field and through long discussions with my father-in-law, a former professional baseball player of seventeen years.

So I write today as someone who is not totally resistant to the culture of sports that is deeply embedded into our society, but rather as someone who simply seeks a little more authenticity, truth and balance within the system.

All too often parents and children find themselves afraid to speak up within a sports club for fear that there may be negative repercussions affecting the child in the aftermath.

My voice seeks to activate greater freedom and soul nourishment surrounding sports in our lives, particularly in the area of travel sports which has become a huge family commitment for so many around the country, determining how much of a child's extracurricular time is spent.

As the club mentality has continued to spread over the past decade, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate its many facets.

Although my children for the most part enjoy much of the experience, deriving physical, emotional and social empowerment from it, as a parent I often feel disempowered by a system that dictates so much of our family experiences, as well as our financial distribution.

Sometimes I feel like I am part of a herd of sheep at the mercy of others determining how my family will spend its time and money, with little or no say in the matter.

I find myself questioning the need and/or desire to spend so much of our family time together en route to another far away game—always in the back of my mind the small voice asking, "Are there any appropriately matched teams that we could be playing closer to home?"

Yes, I know because I have heard the answer from coaches before, it is a choice to be on a top team and we can opt to move our child down to another level, but even on those levels the logistical and financial commitment can be quite large, and my child desires to remain on the team best suited to him or her.

My perspective is NOT to throw the baby out with the bath water here, but simply to create a travel sports environment that remembers and integrates the reason for its inception in the first place—the children and passion for the sport.

Perhaps a bit more transparency, a tad more choice, an ounce more appreciation of much-needed balance for families would go along way in creating a higher experience for all involved.

I do understand that the clubs are businesses with certain needs that must be met, sometimes unknown fully to the parent. It is my hope that through more open dialogue at parent meetings, we can begin to feel more understanding towards one another's ultimate goals.

While some parents do indeed desire to "make a name" for their team, acquire a big college scholarship for their child and travel far and wide regardless of cost or the fracturing of family time, I do believe that there are others of us out there who feel that travel sports don't necessarily have to be so all or nothing.

Aren't there some creative ways to enhance the positives and reshape the negatives upon which we can all agree?

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