Saturday, April 3, 2010

Youth Sports Can Take Over Your Life If You Let it. We do.

Select sports can takeover your life if you let it. We are choosing to let it because we love it. We encounter many parents who do not love it. In fact, they dread it and complain non-stop. We tend to avoid these parents at games, that is if they go to the games at all. Meredith O'Brien has a beautifully written post about the sacrifices moms make for their young athletes called Becoming a Hockey Mom.

Meredith is a working mom. I am not sure how families with two working parents manage life, work and select sports.

My wife is a stay at home mom. A former multi-sport athlete, stay at home mom. A former multi-sport athlete, who must absolutely love her Honda Odyssey mini-van, stay at home mom.

When my daughter made an elite regional soccer team last fall, I thought that that would be the end of her softball career because select soccer is a year round commitment. My wife, who played softball in college, wanted my daughter to continue to play softball. We had several choices.

1) Have our daughter play rec soccer in the Fall and softball in the spring. She is too good at soccer.

2) Have our daughter drop softball and just concentrate on soccer and basketball which is very manageable. She is good at softball too.

3) This spring, have our daughter play both softball and soccer at the same time our son is playing a 75 game baseball schedule.

My daughter clearly wanted to play both. She absolutely loves to be on a field. She loves practices and games alike. I sat down with her and explained that she would have little time for her non-athlete buddies, her very best friends. She thought it about it, but really wanted to play both sports. She told me she loves her teammates too.

I was trying to talk my daughter out if it because I thought three spring sports between two kids was going to put too much of a strain on my wife. After all, she would be doing most of driving, watching and waiting.  I help out as much as my job allows. My wife was not concerned, in fact, she even encouraged our son to play volleyball for the school team too. So now we have two kids playing four sports. I am married to a former multi-sport athlete, Honda Odyssey loving, stay at home mom, who is certifiably nuts.

Meredith O'Brien describes youth sports as a sacrifice that can suck the life out of parents. Some of those sacrifices are significant when career advancement is a personal goal or a financial necessity. Or when the hectic schedule puts stress on a marriage. Parents need to do what is right for the family first and foremost. Meredith puts youth sports in the proper context

I want to put youth sports in its proper place in my family’s life. It doesn’t trump school. It doesn’t trump family gatherings or holiday celebrations. It shouldn’t trump religion if you practice one, but all too often the games/practices do conflict. And it shouldn’t trump a parent’s career if he or she doesn’t want it to.

My wife and I view youth sports as pure entertainment and a link to new friends and experiences. Before we had kids, my wife and I played sports together 2 or 3 times per week. We played softball, indoor volleyball, flag football even floor hockey. We gave that up when our kids started playing sports. Was it a sacrifice? We both thought we would miss the competition, but the joy we get from watching our kids play, compete, succeed and grow trumps the joy of playing.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! The joy that you and your wife get from youth sports comes right off the page through your writing!

    Your joy is important but more important is that it does not seem as if either of you push your kids to play so that you can live through them. You discuss the pros and cons of playing so many sports and games with the kids and they decide. That is admirable!




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