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September 20, 2007

Youth Sports: An Un-healthy Obsession?

This Dad post is brought to us via Amie's husband, Greg.  If Amie wants to see Greg, the first place she checks is the little league field.  Greg is currently coaching two of their three sons and managing the maintenance of all of the fields for the very same little league he grew up playing in.  And that's not his day job.  She's pretty sure his dreams involve groomers and dirt and his nightmares bad calls. 

Jackhelmet_superstar We all want the best for our children, but why do we obsess over how our sons and daughters perform in sports at the ages of 9, 10, 11, and 12 ? Sometimes even younger.

My 9 year old can hit farther than your 10 year old. Why do you care? Will that help him become a successful lawyer?

My 11 year old throws 60 mph. Why do you care? That's not going to be on his resume when he runs for President.

My 12 year old batted .450 this season. Why do you care?  Will that get him an A in college biology?

I have a childhood friend who didn’t make all-stars as a 12 year old, yet by the time he was 18 he was an Virginia All-State centerfielder. He bounced around several colleges and ultimately graduated undrafted by any professional team. He did, however, go on to be successful in a non-athletic career.

I played against a kid in high school who was one of the best pure hitters I have ever seen in my exposure to amateur athletics. If the ball was anywhere near the plate, it was a screaming line drive to the gap. He was drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins if memory serves, yet he never once stepped into a Twins uniform at the major league level.

Who we are at 12 doesn’t tell us who we will be at 18.  Just as who we are 18 is no indication of who we'll be at 35.

It is great to be proud of our children, but we have to keep it in perspective.  Chances are that the 10 year old all-star will develop little league elbow when he is 15 and never be the same. The 12 year old home run champion may discover that he likes lacrosse a lot better. The 11 year old speedster finds out that drama is really his gig. They will become who they are meant to be--not who WE want them to be.

I hold out grand hopes for my children, but I know the odds are against them ever seeing a college ball field much less a professional one.

As you can tell, our's is a baseball household, but replace the statistics and terminology with those of any other sport and the point is still the same.

I always look at my children and check to see if they are smiling and ask if they had fun. If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then all is right with the world. After all, it is only a game.


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