A.S. asks from Glendora, CA on September 11, 2012
The Rush to Put Kids in Sports
I have several friends who have multiple kids in different sports. It seems like they spend literally 5-6 days of the week at some kind of sporting event/practice etc. I have one close friend who is always so stressed because her 11 year old son lives and breathes baseball so they are doing baseball related activities, year round. She has 2 other kids who also have their own activities but who get dragged to the double and triple headers every Saturday. There are tournaments where they sit for hours on end for days in a row. I let my children do an activity here or there but I do not feel that they always "need" to be involved in some sport. They are all young (8 and under). The oldest has tried flag football, karate, and soccer when he was young. Middle has tried softball, karate and two types of dance. Youngest is attached to my hip and hasn't done any. When I was a kid I didn't start playing sports until I was like 12 and I still was on 2 varsity sports teams in high school. So what is the rush to put all your kids in sports? I feel like I love our family time on the weekend, doing whatever we choose and could never imagine having a schedule like my friend's. She is always complaining about it and then in the same breath says how I really "need" to get my kids into sports. I feel pressure from other moms but at the same time, if a child doesn't specifically WANT to play a sport is it really necessary? Driving to and from sporting events all weekend just doesn't seem like my idea of quality time. I understand doing it in the 11-14 age range so that they "can keep out of trouble" but what is the rush with grade schoolers?
M.R. answers from Detroit on September 11, 2012
I didnt really feel like I was rushing into anything. An opportunity came up for my daughter to join a softball team when she was 5. She is now 7, it is a summer activity of her that gets her out and active. We met tons of great people, and I would say all around, it is a great experience.
Now, if my daughter gets obsessed with playing someday, more power to her and I will be right there on the side lines cheering her on.
As I would do with my other two kids when they are old enough.
Like I said, no rush, its fun, we all love it, so why not?
2 moms found this helpful
D.G. answers from Dallas on September 13, 2012
I have one son who has played baseball since he was 4 and has now played select ball for 3 years (6 seasons). He is also playing football through the school this fall. If we had waited until now (13) to put him in baseball, he would have very little to no hope of playing select. Most kids in select ball have played for years. Most kids in high school baseball have been playing select for years. Unfortunately things have changed so much from years ago. We have always made it a policy to only have one activity at a time until this season. And we let this happen since practice is right before school. I will say the most of my sons friends have come from his outside activities - not school. We spend family time going to games and have made some awesome friends. My youngest hasn't wanted to play anything. We tried baseball but he was not interested at all. (We have other issues going on with him that has made it different also.) We also give him the opportunity to back out of baseball each season but so far he has not wanted to. He loves it and that is worth it to me.
C.C. answers from San Francisco on September 11, 2012
Yeah, I know what you mean. My oldest wanted to take dance lessons when she was 4, so I put her in one ballet class per week. But then, she loved it. REALLY loved it. Put 100% of her laser-like focus into it and, because she has the right body type for it as well as the right temperament, she has excelled at it. So... now she is 10 and takes 5 classes per week, plus rehearsals when she's cast in a company production (she takes her dance classes at the dance school of our local ballet company). She loves it, so I'm fine with driving her to her lessons and rehearsals.
The other day, we had a parent meeting with the Artistic Director of the ballet company - ultimately, he's in charge of the dance school as well. Anyway, he said something that stuck with me. First of all, he wants dance and the arts to be a positive, life-affirming experience for the kids. Secondly, he knows that the kids have a lot of demands on their time - whether it's school, homework, family obligations, or dance. However, he noted that often times, it's the girls who are most serious about their dance careers who are the best students BECAUSE they have learned discipline, focus and prioritization. And it's true - the older girls (high school aged) spend around 4 hours per day, 6 days per week, dancing, plus a full course load of classes at school. And yet these girls get straight As, and excel in dance. You know what they say - if you want something done, ask someone who's busy to do it!
So, while I do understand kids being kids, there's something to be said for letting them pursue their passion to the fullest of their capability. It will make them better-rounded people in the long run, and not just in their area of interest.
I do also think it's important for kids to do some kind of physical activity outside of school. They hardly get any PE at school, and they will grow up to be sloth-like individuals if they don't learn to love sports at a younger age. That's not to say they will be GOOD at sports, but there is a sport for everyone, even just at a recreational level.
7 moms found this helpful
J.W. answers from St. Louis on September 11, 2012
When I read rush to get kids in sports I was thinking three or four year olds. Eleven you have no chance of ever playing varsity in this day and age.
So pretty much you don't get it. When you were a kid no one started until 12, if no one starts till 12 then starting at 12 gives you no disadvantage and that handful of kids that started at 5 have a huge! advantage.
Just because it is not your idea of quality time doesn't mean these kids are not having fun. I enjoyed taking my daughter to her soccer games. I was a little upset when she quit in high school but it is her life. She would have never made even the JV team had she not been playing since she was four.
6 moms found this helpful
L.R. answers from Washington DC on September 11, 2012
You're seeing what I see a lot of around here -- a culture, as much among parents and coaches as among kids, of getting into a sport or sports and "sticking with it" no matter what, even if it means no family time on weekends. It's as if the parents think that just trying a sport for fun is not enough of a commitment; if the child wants to opt out the next season or (heaven forbid!) during the current season, the child must be a slacker who will never be able to commit to anything, ever, the rest of his or her life.
Yeah, it's obnoxious.
While kids do need to learn to stick with things enough to really know what they want, and enough to get over temporary humps and not quit at the first sign of not being perfect....They do not need to lock into one sport at the age of five or six and stay in that sport throughout school. That's how it seems to work now, though. By age 10 or 11, many kids here have no option for just playing soccer for pure fun, for instance; they are expected to be good enough to be on "travel teams" or to get out. (I'm sure some parents would say "Not so" but that's the image it has to the rest of us, fueled by families who say "My kid can't find a way to play soccer for fun instead of in some very competitive league!")
In many activities, by age 11 or 12, a child often is on the border of having to make a deeper commitment to that activity and I understand that for sure -- my child now does four dance classes a week plus (at the moment) two short rehearsals each week for an upcoming show, and that will increase as other shows come up over the school year. But she has made the commitment herself, and is old enough to do so, and -- she has tried other activities so she knows that she loves to dance. But I agree with you that pushing kids into sports that are several nights a week and one full weekend day, all school year long, in elementary grades is just unrealistic and doesn't give the kids any down time or a chance to try other forms of activities.
What kills me in your post is the image of those siblings sitting through hours and hours of baseball. What is the reason for that? "They need to support their brother's interest"? Nonsense. They can come to the critical championship game. They should be off doing their OWN activities and not spending every single Saturday watching his games. One parent can take son to his game and tournaments and the other should be taking the other kids to fulfill their own interests. It always bugs me and I see the same thing here -- siblings forced to attend too many of a sporting sibling's games. It's setting the siblings up for resentment and does not allow them to develop their own interests, take classes they might find fun or enriching. I would bet that families that do that have at least one parent who is so invested in living that sport through the one child that he or she forgets that the other kids might be missing out entirely on developing their own, totally separate interests.
Don't cave to your friend's saying your own kids "need" to be in sports. They may be into sports, sure, but they also might like sports like archery or fencing or golf! Or dance, or art, or theatre. We are so sports-driven now, and so focused JUST on football/soccer/baseball/basketball/softball at the expense of all other sports, too. Let your kids try lots of things. Sounds like you will!
5 moms found this helpful
D.B. answers from Fargo on September 11, 2012
I hear you. My oldest plays hockey. Started when she was 5, it was 6 months of my life year after year. And expensive!! Yes my little one was drug to the rink time after time - she was 2 weeks old in the rink for a tournament. Most tournaments are away so the whole family would go. It got to be so much easier in high school because it was only 3 months, after school and I got my weekends back. Also these coaches are CRAZY!! I hated how serious they were - and all I could think was these are girls, 11 or 12 (or however old) year old girls - on both teams.
I will not let me 7 year do something like hockey that requires 6 months of my life. It too hard. She did try hockey at 5, as that's all she knows . . . but it wasn't for her. She never make it a full practice and ended up crying and usually just sitting and watching. She does play the piano - so I think you need to make sure what their interests are and arent doing it because it what they think they will do.
And I just want to say that I don't agree if they are 12 when they start they won't make Varsity. I've seen girls start at 12, within a couple weeks they looked like everyone else. I know 2 girls that started at 12 that are in private high schools because of their hockey skills.
And not everyone wants to be on Varsity - my daughter much enjoyed JV because that's where she had fun. I'll get bashed I'm sure, but at the end of high school, it's just that the end. And if they go on to college to play (more and more colleges are doing away or greatly reducing girls scholerships due to it not being a big money maker), very, very few go on to the pros.
I do like that it keeps her busy, keeps her out of trouble, teaches her committment, being a team player, etc. I think it about just keeping it all in perspective.
4 moms found this helpful
E.M. answers from Denver on September 11, 2012
expose your kids early... if they like it, then look at doing it further.
Yes, it has gotten younger and younger and it is not necessarily a good thing. I firmly believe the adults have totally screwed this up!
that said, my oldest is all things baseball. when he was 8 (he started at 5), he had two kids on the team (still a developmental team not an elite team) who had never played - they quit after that one season because they were sooooooo far behind the other kids in skill level that they were completely frustrated. I held the line and we didn't do anything organized until kindergarten, which made us oddballs. we have continued to hold the line and insist on different activities in different seasons (no fall baseball, no winter hitting league); that is not his choice but it is ours as parents because we don't think that much of one sport is good for him. however, my son just paid the price for our attitude in that he was cut from an elite team. not because he wasn't good enough but because we weren't dedicated enough. ****sigh***** we've found a good team that's not quite so competitive so hopefully it will all work out. we filtered the information so he's excited about the change.
my daughter is in soccer. we just quit a team because they had moved to year-round playing. again, we just don't think this is healthy development. we've found a fantastic coach who also thinks two seasons of soccer is plenty at 9 years old but we had to search. I think many parents are afraid to rock that boat - look what happened to my son.
be aware that by waiting, your kids will NOT be able to play most high school sports. their skill levels will simply be too far behind. they may be able to play jay vee, they may be able to do things that don't require "development" such as cross-country, but they will have an extremely slim chance of playing at the varsity level for sports like soccer, baseball, football, basketball. even golf and tennis - most kids start by 8. also be aware that for some sports, the college scouts don't even look at the high school teams - in my state (Colorado), the scouts pretty much only look at club players for soccer.
they should be experimenting with sports by early/mid elementary school to see if there's anything they really like. plus there's so many other lessons that sports teaches that don't happen in school. you just have to navigate the crazy parents and the general craziness that sports has become but it can be well worth it. try the Y or the local rec district rather than club if you can, as they tend to be more low key.
realize that your kids will be absolutely fine without the early sports but there are the trade offs. If you're okay with that, then listen to the crazy parents without a word, laugh inside, and move on. if you really want your kids to have more sports experience in junior high and high school then see if you can find some low-key 6-8 week seasons at the Y. know that sports will not be much of an option at 11-14 other than things like swim, golf, tennis because it moves to the school versus club for many things and if they don't have the skills, they won't play.
Most kids will not play high school much less college or beyond despite what the crazy parents think - they'll be burned out! our goal has always been to do just enough to keep their passion piqued and fed, develop their skills just enough that when they hit high school, they can play at an elite level if they choose. My kids have the talent. we are doing our best to nurture the skills to go with the talent while keeping it sane and giving them a childhood that includes a lot of play and free time. It can be done, it just takes a strong will and a thick skin (really! - my son is cut because of us! - yes, this is a sore point right now)
4 moms found this helpful
A.M. answers from Kansas City on September 11, 2012
We celebrate our family time by being active in sports and watching each other play. Just as your choice is not to it is our choice to do so.
We offered for them to play they accepted at an early age...(sports are a passion in my family) we gave them the option to wait. But they saw me play softball/volleyball weekly since they were babies. They wanted to play so I put them in. Our daughter plays competitive soccer at 7 has for the last year...she wanted to play on an all girls team...only way to do that was to play competitive. She loves it. She knows that if it's too much she can say "too much mom, I need to stop"...and we will (at the end of the season though).
Yes we are gone three nights week to practice...we have four soccer games this weekend. I would not change anything during the Fall and Spring to not be at a field somewhere watching my kids play...
Yes it's tiresome, yes some nights it gets frantic...some nights we "tag team"...literally he's dropping off our daughter as I'm pulling in to stay for practice.
The other two nights a week are reserved for Girl Scouts and one day Boy Scouts....all our "family time" is spent exactly how we want to spend it. Playing a sport or out at a GS activity or off at the zoo, aquarium doing something together. We are together and that is all that matters to me.
You don't want to deal with don't...but don't judge those of us that love this...and love that our kids have something they love to do as well.
4 moms found this helpful
J.G. answers from Chicago on September 11, 2012
I so hear you. Unless my children show some true brilliance in a sport, I'm keeping them out of them. They are young, so we do classes at the park district, which are more fun and relaxed than speciality shops. Kids are better off playing unorganized sports. In fact, they learn more without all the adult pressure. Im hoping my kids can have a great group of kids on the block to play with.
Life is too short to waste all those hours on something unless it is a true passion. There is so much to do, and I see my brother's girlfriend's 12 year old do nothing but sports.....they are never available for things on the weekend, they live and breath whatever sport he is in given the season. It seems crazy to me. What ever happen to sports just being fun? They've turned kids sports into high pressure events. It's crazy.
3 moms found this helpful
B.M. answers from Chicago on September 11, 2012
I also understand.
But the "rush" has to do with our society's constant need to progress and improve and do better than those before. Unfortunately, that's the society we live in.... so that is what has become important. You can bang your own drum, if you want. But "doing better" is such a huge deal that some parents hold their kids back in pre-school so that they will be bigger, faster stronger for football. My daughter attended pre-k in the south and she had just turned 4 and was in a class with 6 year olds. They had to revamp the high school curriculum to offer driver's ed to sophomores. It's just a different mindset.
But even in schools that aren't as hard-core as football in Texas...... if you don't put your kid in an activity until they are 11... they are WAY behind. Because they are just learning and everyone else knows the rules and has honed their skills for years. Your kid may be behind enough that they will never be on the A-list or the Varsity squad or whatever is applicable. They might not even make the team if your area has "try outs" instead of the no-cut rule. Now that's fine.... for some kids. But most kids don't have fun unless they can play. And they can't play if they aren't good.
Extra curricular activities do more than just keep kids out of trouble, but they definitely help with that. They have also proven that extra curricular activities are SO helpful to kids in terms of building self-esteem, keeping them physically healthy and improving focus due to increased respiratory function and better sleep at night.
You can't build these if you don't start until they are tweens. You have to build it from when they are little.
You just have to balance. Let them do ONE activity per semester. Let them try a variety and learn what they like. Then around middle school they can pick one and get more involved so that by high school they are proficient.
3 moms found this helpful