Talent is commonly developed at the expense of character. Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you are the parent of a three year old, you may have already been asked if he or she is signed up for soccer yet. Or dance. Or gymnastics. Or whatever.
They LOOK SO CUTE IN THEIR LITTLE UNIFORMS! So you sign up.
And It Begins.
From here on, there will be a constant evaluation of your child's level of interest, abilities and potential in the world of sports. You will ponder practice times, furnish snacks, brave bad weather, suffer through poor coaching, unfair reffing, and hard bleachers so that your child can learn character and hopefully win some games. Most of it is really, really fun!
It starts getting complicated when you either a) have more than one child, or b) your child likes more than one sport, or c) your child shows potential in their chosen sport or d) more than one child shows potential in one or more sports. Add to this mix the other variables of schoolwork, church, and family time and you have a real challenge to keep all the wheels on.
One of the hardest challenges to face is when your kid is pretty good and someone leans over and suggests that he or she really should be playing "Select". The competition is so much better, and it will really prepare them for playing on the High School and College level. In fact, if your kid has any hope of playing on the High School team, you have no choice but to play Select.
Oh, and it's expensive.
We know parents who work second jobs and run up their credit cards so that their kids can play on Select Teams. They make multiple two-hour round trips to practices (that's just in the car) and spend every weekend at tournaments. Multiply that by just one other sibling and they are almost never home.
Statistics will tell you that only a very TINY percentage of kids will ever play sports in college and even fewer will make it to the professional level. If you are thinking that you are investing in your child's education by funding expensive sports leagues, think again. There are FAR MORE scholarships available to good students who are good citizens than to athletes. That is the truth.
So what is a parent to do? Well, here is what we have done, if it helps.
1. We generally limit sports to ONE PER YEAR, per kid. We did consider two sports for G.T. this year, but only because we are down to one child at home and it was doable. But the seasons overlapped and we decided against it. We don't go from baseball to soccer to hockey and it just works for us. Every kid needs time off, even from something they love.
2. The girls took music lessons in addition to a sport, so for the sport season it was crazy at times. We were OK with that, because it didn't last long. After a few seasons, they weren't all that interested in sports and we let it go.
3. We have not done Select Teams. We aren't against them by any means, but we can't afford the time or the money. We have done the Recreation Leagues and the school leagues and may consider a Select team in the future if Tom can coach. Coaching would give us a discount and would give him and G.T. time together. Many factors must fall into place for it to work.
4. No one gets to sign up for anything before we discuss it thoroughly. (This goes for any activity, not just sports.)
In my last post, I said to live Simply you have to start by taking a hard look at your time, money and resources and choose to live within them. By limiting our involvement in sports, we have freed up time to do other things: homework, hanging out, fishing, and not eating every meal out of a bag in the car. (This also helps our manners, but that again is for another post.)
Making choices about our family's activities is an ongoing process. It changes with each new sport season, school year and event. We've often found ourselves in over our heads, (particularly in December and May), going way too many directions. And that's with the best of intentions! Passing kids off like batons as you race from one thing to another is no way to live, and not what I want my kids to remember of their childhood.
We want sports to be part of our lives, not to rule our lives.