Yesterday I watched my downstairs neighbor/mom load her children into her mini-van. Along with all the kids, she threw in a cooler, two bags of balls, helmets, pads and other sport-related paraphenalia.
As I watched, I wondered. Is it really worth it to have your children involved in sports? What does it really teach them in the long run? I do support some of the things children can learn while involved in organized sports such as teamwork and sportsmanship, because those virtues will actually be uselful later in life and can be applied in other areas, but overall I find sports to be physically, emotionally, and financially draining for children. I feel like they could be using their time in other ways, alongside their parents to instill more important values than what they are learning while running around on a field. I know, I am in an apparent minority.
Over the years, I have allowed Jacob to try different sports; he has played baseball, basketball, and soccer and I have found that after the first few practices/games he was already feeling frustrated at his performance (even if it was great) and not wanting to go to practices. Not to mention the time it took away from our family time while we were hauling him all over three or four days a week to games and such, sometimes not arriving home until after 8, which in my home, if you were born of me you better be tucked in and on your way to Sleepy's House by 8 pm. He was often tired in school the following day and his grades definitely suffered during these times.
I struggle now with deciding whether or not to allow my sons to play fall ball because we are surrounded by neighbors who place all their worth on how far their little boys can throw a football or how many baskets he can shoot. I don't want my boys to feel left out but at the same time I do not want to foster in them that they must be always trying to be better, faster, quicker on the field. My sons feel like they are missing out on something special. It is understandable from a child's point of view, that, for the most part, it is fun to play sports.
I argue that we should look at the state of our educational system, the worth we place on athletes and sporting events vs. academic ability. This starts at such a young age; some sports allow for the child to begin playing at age 3 (!!) and goes on into the professional arena with NBA and NFL.
As I see it, I would much rather pay for instumental lessons or perhaps even Martial Arts (though this would greatly depend on the instructor), as I feel it engages other parts of the brain and teaches something other than competition and rivalry.
I watch my neighbor when she returns from a game with her children (boys and girls). She is exuberant and jubilent if they have won thereby, in my opinion, sending the message that winning matters. If their team has lost, she is scolding and reprimanding them all the way down the walk and still after the door closes behind her. It would appear that she places her worth as a mother on how well her kids can perform and outplay. The looks on the kids' faces are of utter defeat and misery. How can that be good for a child?
I place my worth as a mother on how respectful and mannered my children are, how well they can READ, watching them handle responsibility effectively, etc. I feel like, when my son is in the 8th grade, if he still can't remember to bring/do his HW without me nagging on him, I have failed in teaching him what he really needs to know to survive in the real world--to think and do for himself. Accountability and consequences--of the natural variety.
I still don't know what we will ultimately decide to do this fall, but I guarantee, I would be happy with guitar lessons and Spanish lessons. Jacob and Max, that is a different story entirely.
Let me emphasize that I am not in any way saying that kids don't need exercise, and of course some parents have their children involved in sports for that reason. I just feel like exercise can definitely come from another way than in competition.