Youth Sports Insanity


#1

I was wondering what other parent's experience with youth sports is. My wife and I have 5 daughters and 1 son between ages 14-4. The older 5 all play softball and baseball. It used to be fun when our oldest was young and we'd all go to her games. Now, on Tuesdays as an example, all five have practices starting at five different times, so we wind up on the field between 3 and 7 at night. I realize that this is a beast of our own making, but youth sports is feeling like a form of slavery. In addition to that, there is now t-ball for 4 year olds and there are more tournaments, practices, and games than when we started in sports 8 years ago. Now, our town has 1st graders playing games in basketball and most of them don't even know what to do with the ball yet. The pressure to succeed in youth sports is insane as is the commitment level. We are thinking of implementing forced retirement after age 12 and do individual sports such as biking, etc., sports which the family can do together. What are your thoughts out there?


#2

If they really enjoy softball, maybe instead of making them quit just don’t go to their games.


#3

Is there any way you can find some kind of compromise? Scale back on some of the tournaments instead of banning the team sports all together?

I don't quite understand though why you brought up the 1st graders playing basketball when you mentioned your children play baseball and softball?


#4

It's insanity to push yourself to go to all the games. it's even more crazy to go to practices. See if one or more can be part of a carpool or have a friend's parent take your kid from school to practice.

Sit down with the older ones (anyone above 8) and explain to them you can't make it to all the games and schedule the "important" games to the girls.

Don't go to "away" games if you can help it. period.

If they want to continue, let them. If they want to try something else try that. But don't impose your dislike on them if they really want to play softball.


#5

I think the OP was commenting on how sports are becoming more and more competitive and time consuming at younger and younger ages. Just like Kindergarten has become First Grade in terms of academic expectations. There is a lot of pressure to push everything down the age groups to younger and younger kids, where what adults are asking is not appropriate and is no longer about just running out on the court/field and having fun with your friends.

I guess a light hearted example is some 5- a-side soccer team tournies that our local Boys and Girls club would organize in the summer. The director is Catholic and the husband of one of my best friends. We thought it would be fun to field some teams from our parish. All went well for the 6-7 yr olds but the following summer the younger sibs wanted to join in so we set up a league for the 4-5s. Needless to say the practices (and games) were hilarious. The first night my five year old dd and her best friend Sofia were running around the pitch holding hands. One little boy chased the ball and just kept running! I think they found him in the parking lot. The kids would stand there picking their nose while the ball rolled straight past.

My friends husband (who was the pee-wee coach) turned to her that night as all the kids had piled into the cars at the end of play and said “Ohhhhhh…we’re in trouble!”.


#6

Is it just me or is it wrong to think that 4-5 year olds should be competent enough to kick a ball? I used to nanny and taught the kids chores…by four most could sweep a floor (with a play broom or swiffer) pretty darn well. Some even knew how to warm their sibiling’s bottles in the microwave or other household tasks. While the competitiveness of sports is often over-the-top, I really do think the infantalization of children begins early. For centuries before this one unless you were wealthy 5yo’s contributed to the household to the best of their ability…far more mentally and physically rigirours than a ball game.


#7

They can kick a ball but the logistics of teamwork and coordination with four other little people is a stretch and many were not close to 5. I think this is different than doing a repetitive task that they have observed and been trained to repeat. They would "swarm" the ball for example because they knew they should kick it and try and get to goal but to be tactical and pass to another player or two before they reached the goal was asking a lot of this new to soccer group.


#8

What ever happened to throwing the kids outside with a ball and stick or net and letting them do their own thing? :confused:

Other than the money-making aspect of it, I see no reason to enroll kids that young in organized sports.

If they are 10 or older and want to get serious with one specific sport, that’s different, if they have the skill and interest to pursue it as a career. Apart from career athletes, though, I see no need for organized sports. Generations of kids did just fine without coaches or field rentals, when playing just for fun and exercise.


#9

Maybe the OP has it backwards, ban organized sports until the kids reach middle school or older and concentrate on stuff the family can do until that age.


#10

:thumbsup:


#11

[quote="Scott_D, post:1, topic:195925"]
The pressure to succeed in youth sports is insane as is the commitment level. We are thinking of implementing forced retirement after age 12 and do individual sports such as biking, etc., sports which the family can do together. What are your thoughts out there?

[/quote]

I can definitely agree as your children get better and want to play on more competitive teams the commitment level goes way up. I was one of those kids who played baseball and soccer at very competitive levels growing up and my time was largely taken up with sports practices and games, but in addition to that I was involved in other activities such as band, music lessons, volunteering, tutoring, boy scouts, etc. I loved it all and I'm very happy my parents never made me stop doing anything.

If your kids really like the sports and seem to be doing well, making friends, etc then I think it would be bad to stop them involuntarily. They might accept it now, but when they are 20 they may look back on their childhood and wander what could have been or wish they continued to play. It may also make them feel left out if they have a lot of friends through the sport that they no longer will see as much.

You have a lot of children, so trying to find other parents to carpool or take turns driving kids to practices might be beneficial and free up some of your time to spend with the kids not playing in the games.


#12

OP:

We are kind of in the same position as you. 4 kids between 6-11, with all of them pursuing a sport…a couple competitively. So this year we have really found our lives being organized around sports practices and games. It has definitely been a year of change for us.

I think its it pretty natural to reisist letting your life revolve around youth sports. We have discussed many times whether this is best for our kids, and for us as a family. And as of this point, we are okay with the fact that so much of our time is dedicated to this. It has become sort of our familly identity of sorts…we go to games, we love to watcht the children play and compete, and the children absolutely love to play and compete…it is a big part of our lives and that is ok with us.

Unlike a previous poster, and I would guess plenty of other folks, who see no benefit to organized sports, I really see them as great place for kids to learn about things like competition, sportsmanship, teamwork, committment, etc. Now, I completely agree that parents/coaches can get way out of hand with sports…and I do think that having the kids playing competitively so young really limits a child’s ability to sort of “explore” the possiblities. But I feel good about my kids participating in organized sports and I do feel that they are better off for having done so.


#13

Heck no. Don't make rules to your younger ones that didn't apply to the older ones. If you were at all the oldest ones games, and let them play well into their teen years, but stopped going to your younger kids games and made them stop early, they're going ot resent you for it and it'll just breed jealously like a petrie dish


#14

Perfect. That’s exactly what I meant. I know that bringing up basketball seems random but it’s just an example of how youth sports today are all about training rather than playing. I don’t wonder now why families don’t eat together anymore, much less having time for strengthening the Church.


#15

I think it is crazy, let kids be kids, use their imagination. Its too serious at too young of an age(even at an adult age its too serious)


#16

The problem nowadays is that competition for spots on middle school and high school teams is so intense that you’ll never be good enough unless you start when you’re 7 or 8 years old at the latest. Just look at softball pitchers. Most of them have paid pitching instructors by age 8 or so. Many of them start playing (at least here in cold Maine) indoors in January. The ante keeps getting upgraded. Kids are treated like little professionals or professionals in training. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed watching my kids over the years, but it is increasingly a rat race and a keep-up-with-the Joneses experience.


#17

[quote="Scott_D, post:16, topic:195925"]
The problem nowadays is that competition for spots on middle school and high school teams is so intense that you'll never be good enough unless you start when you're 7 or 8 years old at the latest. Just look at softball pitchers. Most of them have paid pitching instructors by age 8 or so. Many of them start playing (at least here in cold Maine) indoors in January. The ante keeps getting upgraded. Kids are treated like little professionals or professionals in training. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed watching my kids over the years, but it is increasingly a rat race and a keep-up-with-the Joneses experience.

[/quote]

There are alternatives though to the high school teams. Our YMCA offers leagues in baseball, basketball, lacrosse, etc, etc, for that age group that are not that intense and for the youth that just wants to play the sport.

You don't have to keep up with the Jones. It can be your choice to just teach your child to enjoy a team sport.


#18

Not everywhere has those other opportunities. Around here once you get to high school your only shot is high school team or travel ball. They are both extremely competitive, and hardly any recreational leagues offer teams for high school aged kids.


#19

Our 3 kids did tae kwon do together. One location at the same time! They went all the way to black belt together, which I think is a unique thing for siblings to share and have in common. They did it together. :)


#20

[quote="KCT, post:19, topic:195925"]
Our 3 kids did tae kwon do together. One location at the same time! They went all the way to black belt together, which I think is a unique thing for siblings to share and have in common. They did it together. :)

[/quote]

That's a great idea if you can afford it. Martial arts around here are around $100 a month per kid.


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