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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Are Kids Sports a Hidden Scourge in Society?

by Seattle Jon:

I'm coaching my son’s little league team again this year, which meant 2+ hour practices three days a week in March and 2.5+ hour games three days a week through the end of June. That's a lot of baseball. And when you spend that amount of time around baseball you meet other parents who also spend a lot of time around baseball. So what do we talk about?

Mostly about how to balance being the supportive parent who spends three hours a day driving all over town to allow our child to pursue his or her dreams without becoming the supportive parent that drives all over town to allow our child to pursue OUR dreams.

I've witnessed a few situations with kids over the last few years that I can only describe as exhausting. Little league baseball wasn't enough, as parents spent thousands of dollars on "select" baseball to get formal training and weekly tournaments, hired local celebrities for private hitting lessons and bought top-of-the-line equipment and gear. Not to mention these kids were also still playing select soccer, basketball or lacrosse. Just imagining the time and money required to make this work makes me want to take a nap then start looking for a second job.

A recent article, which along with my current part-time job as a baseball coach inspired this post, had this to say,
"How did we get here? How did we go from spending our family times in parks and picnics, at movies and relative’s houses to travel baseball and cheerleading competitions? When did we go from being supportive to being subtly abusive?

Somewhere along the line we got distracted, and the practice field became the dinner table of the new millennium. Instead of huddling around a platter of baked chicken, mashed potatoes and fruit salad, we spend our evenings handing off our children like 4 x 200 batons. From baseball practice to cheerleading, from swimming lessons to personal training, we have become the "hour-long" generation of five to six, six to seven, and seven to eight, selling the souls of our family for lacrosse try-outs. But why do we do this?”
Maybe those of us who take the winter sports season off to recover from soccer and prepare for baseball have it all wrong, that kids these days just love to compete, love to have a million things going on at the same time. Maybe all this crazy is the new childhood. Or maybe the previously quoted author is right, that all of this …
"is a hidden scourge in society today, taxing and stressing husbands, wives, parents and children. We're denying children the opportunity to explore literally thousands of facets of interests because of the fear of the need to "specialize" in something early, and that by not doing this your child will somehow be just an average kid. How do we learn to rejoice in the average and celebrate as a whole society the exceptional? I'm not sure, but I know that this whole preoccupation is unhealthy, it is dysfunctional and is as bad as alcoholism, tobacco abuse, or any other types of dependency."
MMM readers, what do you think?

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Seattle Jon is a family man, little league coach, urban farmer and businessman living in Seattle. He currently gets up early with the markets to trade bonds for a living. In his spare time he enjoys movies, thrifting and is an avid reader. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the Japan Fukuoka mission field. He has one wife, four kids and three chickens.
 photo Line-625_zpse3e49f32.gifImage credit: State Archives of Florida (used with permission).

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