Monday, January 28, 2008

Hey, my kid is on Metro Sports....Yuck!

Okay, I was watching, surfing actually, television recently and ran across the Metro Sports report on the 6th grade boy's basketball league including full highlights and uh.....color commentary. This might be one of the most pathetic things I've seen recently.

We complain about our kids growing up too fast, exposed to far too much at ever earlier ages and then we brag about seeing our 6th grader's highlights on Metro Sports? I don't even think it is healthy or smart. As a country we all noted our concern over Labron James being on the cover of SI while he was still in high school. Michelle Wie going pro in golf before she graduated high school?

What are we telling these kids about their 6th grade basketball game? I can see the dad out there diligently recording the Metro Sports spots and showing them to family and friends, making a tape to send to colleges. This whole thing really scares me. My kids are little and I'm worried about them and sports.

See the thing is sports are so wonderful. Playing sports was and is a huge part of my life. It gave me some great opportunities. I was an elite athlete. But when I hear about tryouts for competitive teams when kids are as little as 6 and 7 years old, traveling teams, elite teams it really bums me out. I played every sport. Kids today play a sport all year round.

I have a friend who coaches his kid's baseball team and they are reportedly really good. People want their kids to play for him. He told me he had conversations with the parents of several players suggesting they find another team because they want to play serious ball. The boys are seven.

I was talking to a mom last night and she was telling me her kid's soccer coach decided the team was going to get more competitive, start traveling and that they only wanted 14 kids. They currently have 16 so they were going to have a tryout. These girls have all played together for the past 6 years and 2 of them will get cut. They are not even in Middle School yet. She said her daughter is terrified of getting cut stating the embarrassment would be too much. I don't know if I even let her try out. My dream is that she is one of the best players and her mom says, no, we aren't doing that to 2 little girls. Take them all or we are out.

Look, I'm not one of those who says don't keep score, make them all winners, protect them. I think that stuff is just as important. I was apart of some real stinkers of teams growing up and truly learned how to lose before I learned how to win. I learned how to be a good sport about winning by knowing what it felt like to lose. These kids who play on these teams that are so good that they never lose are not learning these important lessons. What kind of person are we raising here?

As a parent, I made the decision I wasn't going to go that route. I wanted my kids to find some sports they liked and enjoy them and to work hard at being as good as they can be at them. I didn't want my kids to be on traveling teams when they were 10. I didn't want my kid to worry about being cut from his team at 9. So far we haven't really been put in that position. We still try lots of new things. My kids right now plays on a great little team. The coach is great. Very positive. They aren't very good. They lose most of the time. My kid has never scored a goal but her skills are still very much developing. Am I worried she doesn't have the ability of her old man? Sure, to a certain extent I want her to be good, really good. But I'm a little different in that I think if she has some athletic talent it will start to show and then it can develop. I think introducing kids to lifetime sports at a young age is a better idea. By this I mean something they can enjoy all their life, stay active, stay fit. Tennis, Golf, Swimming are good examples.

I'll share a final thought and then let it rest. I knew a lot of kids who peaked by the 9th grade. They actually knew how to play but had less ability than other kids. Don't think starting them young will make them into elite athletes when they reach college. Lots of my buddies who started very young watched me from the stands when it came time for high school and college.

So Metro should be ashamed of yourselves.


Tonks said...

Hey, it's Tonks, and you kindly left some thoughtful remarks on my blog, so I checked out your blog, too.

First, thanks for being open-minded and leaving intelligent remarks. I'm always open to someone who presents valid, insightful thoughts. Your points made sense to me, too, so they made me think a little. I appreciate that.

Now, comments on this blog...

I couldn't agree more about the state of sports in America. I have two boys, one a baseball player and the other a football player. My football player is now in high school, but all his life was too big to play Pop Warner, so we didn't have that experience until our middle schooler tried football one season in 6th grade. Wow. Parents and coaches are SERIOUSLY competitive, while all we really wanted was for our son to play more than his required 10 plays. We won all but one game, which was admittedly fun, but the intensity in the coach was at times WAY too high. Our son ended up refusing to ever play football again.

We've had even more difficulty with baseball. You're right there are some kids who have never lost, having been chosen first in the little league drafts, going into the Majors by age 9, and playing club teams at the same time. My son is an average player, but he loves baseball and wants to play more. With over 60 kids expected to try out for the 7th grade team and only 12 making it, it's extremely unlikely he'll make well as 30+ other, much better players who DO expect to make it. And continuing to play in Little League is apparently embarrassing ("they're the scrubs") so his baseball career will likely end at age 13.

How many of us are ready to quit so young? If you don't play in a club team, costing upwards of $300/month, from the time your child is 8 or 9, he'll never make even a junior high team. Forget about starting in 9th grade (like I did for volleyball and tennis)'ve missed the boat and can never catch up to the superstars with experience.

Final example: my brother's daughter is a superstar soccer player and has been since she was very young. He sacrificed weekends and worked 3 jobs to afford her two club teams, convinced that soccer was her only way to get a scholarship. Now, at 15, she can barely tolerate soccer, having burned out, and she's threatened to quit for good. She's been lucky enough not to get injured, given all her play time, but look at all they've sacrificed! It's as though we're all afraid our kids won't be smart enough for a scholarship, and that's all that matters. We seem to forget that most of us paid for college the old-fashioned way...we worked for it.

So, I'm 100% with you on the idea that we need to tone down the emphasis on sports. I love sports, too, and they're great for kids, but we've gone overboard. You're right to be scared for your kids. There's a lot of money in the pros, and with T.V. giving us programming emphasizing the rich and famous lifestyles, that's what everyone wants...and expects. Sports seem the fastest, easiest way to get there (at least to our kids!)

My two cents...

JOCOeveryman said...

I think it you are right know since then they had the National Letter in Intent Day on ESPN and it was just as pathetic and horrible.

Thanks for posting. I appreciate you checking it out. Hope you come back again.