“Not happening,” she replied. “I’d like to, but Cameron has games all weekend. And we not only have his games to contend with, which Randy will attend, but Jason also has games! He'll be at the ballpark Friday night, Saturday and Sunday! I'll be there part of the time, but Heather and Gracie have gymnastic practice on Saturday and competition on Sunday!”
“Doesn’t that get old?” I ask.
“Sure it does. But we’ve got to support them. They love it. Besides it gets them ready for sports as they get older. They’ll need it for college. It’s good for them to be competitive.”
“But Cameron is only 7 and Jason is 9. And the girls are just 3 and 5. Isn’t that pushing them a little much?”
“I don’t know. I never thought about that. I've always thought it was harder on me, trying to keep up!" she laughed. "Randy played when he was a kid. And I played soccer. It’s just what we do.”
There is something to be said about the value of sports and children. It is true, it increases confidence, is great exercise, and long term rewards include the possibility of a scholarship, should the sport become a passion!
There is some discussion however, that indicates since our children start at such a tender age, in what has become more like “professional sports,” the risks may outweigh the rewards. In years past, sports were played for fun. There was a local team where boys and girls played for the sheer joy of playing. Now sports, even at a very young age, is played competitively, not only locally, but across a given region.
Data is indicating there is a real threat to our children’s mental and physical health. We have begun to treat our “children” like adults in “professional sports leagues.” There is intensive training to mold and shape their abilities so they can play well against another team. This is apparently having some ramifications emotionally, since such a focus on “winning” and "being the best" is the mindset. In addition to this, is the implications from such intense physical activity, which leads to stress on the body, that is not acclimated to such conditioning, at such a young age.
Some years ago, after not being involved in sports for some years, my husband participated in a fund-raising baseball game. He had a great time and played well, making some awesome catches which landed him once on his stomach, and he hit the ball well, too. That evening he paid the price! He was sore all over.
Now, I admit, children tend to be a bit more flexible than adults, but the idea is the same. They completely enjoy the sport in which they are involved. But is it possible, that we adults, put so much pressure on them to do well, they overextend, like my husband who for a short time forgot his …..limitations…. and pay a price, not only physically, but emotionally as we pressure them to win at all cost?
I don’t have the answer, but I challenge you to observe your children and consider the investment made emotionally as well as physically. Are they giving so much to the “sport” to win, their values are becoming skewed? If they don’t win, do they berate themselves as not having done enough? Do they take the loss personally or as a team effort? Do they want to “get even” to the point of obsession? Are they playing with a healthy “for the fun of it” attitude?
Share your thoughts on the idea of adult emphasis and pressure in sports for our children. Are we pushing them too hard, or do you hold with pushing hard, to be the best way to go?