Youth Athletics – Educational or Financial Objectives

Kid’s sports seemed to have changed so much over the past 30 years. Maybe it was my family, but I remember playing sports for fun. We didn’t pick a sport to focus on too early in life. We played lots of different sports even through high school. There were always the stars and less skilled kids. I think this breadth of sports experiences helped me to understand lots of sports and have lots of experiences.

But, today it seems like kids get funneled into one sport and a select team so early. Have we lost our perspective as parents? Do we really believe that kids will become professional athletes or get college scholarships based on what they do at 4, 6, 8, 10, 12? I’m sure there is some point where focus matters, but just like cross-training, there has to be a point at which multiple sports helps development more than just a focus on one key sport and set of skills.

When I look back on playing sports, I think about all the reasons I want my kids to play sports:

  • To learn teamwork
  • To learn self-motivation to be better
  • To be physically fit
  • To understand the sport and be able to discuss it with people
  • To understand how to be a good sport
  • To understand how to recover from a loss

Most of the kids that I know that got funneled into a single sport early in their life are the star for years, but they burn out before college much less professional days. Sure, everyone always wants to talk about Tiger Woods or some Olympic star that’s been doing their sport since they were four, but what are the odds of that being your kid?

This whole concept of pressuring our kids and acting as helicopter parents is a scary precedent for me. I want to form independent kids that are self-confident in their abilities and enjoy life. There’s plenty of time for stress later in life.

This also drives out in parent behavior at sporting events where they’re yelling at the high school referees coaching their 8-year old’s soccer game or yelling at the coach for their kid not getting enough playing time.

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