I believe children’s sports have become too serious in America. Why is it that today so much pressure is put on our kids to become professional athletes before they can practically walk? Why do parents put more emphasis on sports achievement rather than academic excellence? Can’t our children just play for fun, build camaraderie with their friends, and get a little exercise? Just this past week, I had two experiences which really reminded me that I believe our children should be allowed to be children or perhaps I believe that parents need to learn to relax. At my 5 year old daughter’s soccer game last week, two fathers from the opposing teams began to argue culminating with one threatening to kick the other’s you know what after the game. Most of the little girls at that age are on the field to be with their friends, to laugh, to pick a dandelion, or perhaps to kick the ball in the right direction.
Then, last night after my 8 year old son’s baseball game, which they lost as usual, my son asked me why he is always the last to bat or given the only remaining position to play. He knows he his not the most athletic kid on the team, but he also knows that he deserves a chance to play. I explained that the dads, who are also the coaches, care more about the team winning (which rarely happens) than allowing each child to get an equal chance to play or to just have fun. The outcome of their games is almost always the same regardless of who plays which position so why can’t the coaches mix it up a little more? I coach my daughter’s soccer team and make every effort to prepare an equitable line up for each game ensuring each girl gets the same playing time no matter what the outcome of the game might be.
Before going to bed last night, my son asked me if I thought he would make a good father when he grew up? I asked him why he wanted to know. He said that he hoped that when he was a father (or a coach), he would remember what I told him and that he would be fair to all the kids on the team and he would try to make sure all the boys were having fun.
I believe in sports for my children but not at the expense of their loss of fun or joy when out on the field. Weekends have become more like work for my children and for me. When we have to spend a Saturday playing team sports which are supposed to be exciting but turn out to be more about the parents themselves and their own personal insecurities which they project onto their own children, I would rather keep my kids at home in the backyard playing duck, duck goose. Have you ever see an unhappy child playing duck, duck goose?
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