Kids and their sports have been spinning out of control. And like the three little bears, some sports brackets are TOO intense, while other athletes are being rewarded heroically for nothing. It’s a phenomenon I have watched with growing unease, and I’m left wondering where the “just right” of my sporting childhood could have possibly gone.
As I always say, no child of mine will ever go to the Olympics in any sport. Speed, height and agility notwithstanding, I just don’t have it in me as a mother. Sports and kids have become a full time business, and I am not that kind of entrepreneur.
It seems that each sport comes with multiple teams throughout the year, eclipsing other sports seasons so that a kid ends up with no choice but to specialize at a young age. Or worse: play a few full-intensity sports at once!
Not that I don’t love my 2006 Honda, but I just have no desire to spend that much time in the car, schlepping mini athletes hither and yon. Plus, Marty recently broke a second cup holder, which caused his sister to demand an entirely new vehicle. No way would I run a sports practice car-pool in a brand-new vehicle!
I joke that I’m lazy, and that my kids are a bit uncoordinated. (Heck, I even have a kid who decries sports entirely, although he does admit he would be willing to take up fencing, with a little pole vaulting on the side!) I might feel differently if my children showed some stellar skill from an early age, or if there was some sort of legacy I was pushing for them to uphold.
Beyond these reasons, I just refuse to let the almighty sports machine take control of my family. I don’t mind extra time at home to play Monopoly, (if you define playing as a few passes around GO for each player, until all heck breaks loose and the top hat goes flying.) But without a ton of practices and games, we have time to sing, (loudly), dance in the picture window (which embarrasses them--a true bonus) and play Spot-It, (which I always, always lose.)
There is a flip side to the high-intensity sports that I find just as disconcerting: the model where everybody just gets a trophy for showing up. Call it a trophy for breathing. Kids know what’s going on. Take me for instance. You don’t think that life-sized second place trophy I won for baton when I was seven was ridiculous? There were only TWO people in the entire competition! I can still remember being appalled, even at such a young age.
Kids know the score. They understand who is good and who deserves the trophy. Life is not fair, and I’m okay with my little guys learning that in increments along the way, instead of just being sheltered from every imperfect moment. (My opinions on snacks and drinks for halftime are equally vigorous. Really, they can last an hour without caloric intake.)
I believe in seasonal sports, that hard work should be applauded, and kids should also have time for free play and fun at home . I believe there are winners and losers, and that teamwork is an essential skill built on sports teams. And at the end of the day, I appreciate teams that don’t steal my family life or patronize my children. I am certain that there is, like Goldilocks thought, a "just right" that can be achieved in this realm through a combination of parental restraint and refocusing goals..