Rah, rah, ree! No kiddie sports for me!

My kids don’t play organized sports, but yesterday afternoon they formed a club called The Sparklers and took turns cleaning each other’s rooms. They used duct tape to hang up a blanket cordoning off the area so they could surprise us, and posted signs telling us to keep out.

Image 1Full disclosure: some team-infighting ensued, along with an incident or two involving the vacuum hose.

But in the end, three bedrooms and two bathrooms were…..presentable. BOO-yah! Oh, yeah! Take that, haters. Bat-swinging versus housecleaning: which skill will serve them better as adults? More importantly, which skill makes my life easier right now? Duh.

I am not against organized sports. I’m not! But in the good old days – when I was a kid – children’s sports weren’t so all-consuming, and they didn’t really get going until adolescence. I played basketball and volleyball in high school – but in elementary school? I played freeze tag.

Hot Firefighter Husband loves sports. He ran track in high school and college, and he desperately wants the Diva to be on a team. Any team. After she nixed every feasible sport, he decided she should play lacrosse. He did some research and discovered the lacrosse team practiced twice a week, right around dinner time, with games or tournaments every Saturday.

Buzzkill.

The Tyrant has an arm like Nolan Ryan. Softball? Practice 2-3 times a week, plus games. She’s six.IMG_1375

If these kinds of schedules fit into your family, that’s awesome. And by the way – I BELIEVE in team sports. They foster camaraderie, confidence and leadership; they help children develop physical skills and mental stamina. But at age 6? They foster headaches in the parents who have to spend hours carting the little players around, and who then have to slap together some dinner in five minutes flat when everybody finally arrives home.

I sort of resent the fact that if I don’t get my child involved in time-sucking sports programs right now, before she can even reliably shower by herself, I’ve supposedly doomed her to a nerdy, sport-less life. In my community, parents hire private coaches to help their kids excel in sports – while the children are still in elementary school.

But I’m not resentful enough that I’ll turn my afternoons into suburban NASCAR practice runs, fueling up my kids at convenience stores and McDonald’s. (Really, no McDonald’s, like, ever again. The pink slime business put me over the edge.) I just don’t believe that it’s a required part of childhood – especially when my kids aren’t begging to do it. Hell, they’re not even asking to do it.

And while I’m bitching – what about activities, rather than sports? Kayaking, running, swimming, surfing…can we count that stuff, please?

Okay, I’m done. To recap:

GO, SPARKLERS, GO! Don’t forget the baseboards.

10 responses to Rah, rah, ree! No kiddie sports for me!

  1. Wise follower of the Savvy Sister says:

    Well my dear, I am one of those very parents that spend hundreds, quite sure we are into the thousands, of hours, money and miles on my kids and their sports. While I agree with your stance, my kids LOVE their sports. We probably created the “monster” but now we are in so deep, we are committed to their efforts. My kids both take private lessons in addition to being on Travel ( aka VERY EXPENSIVE) teams and what is sad about the whole thing is that if they really want to play at a college level (which THEY do), we have to keep it up. I do recall that when I was in middle school some 27 years ago….the basketball coach asked me to play basketball simply because I was 5’9″ . He had never seen me dribble a ball ever and I could barely run the track at recess, but he saw potential and decided I could be coached up.. Today, your kid has to be fantastic at the sport before they can even think about trying out and MAKING the team. And in this community there are probably 10-12 other kids that have had better and more private lessons than your kid has. So, I give a big huge, GO SPARKLES! cheer to your beautiful children. And big huge, GO MOMMA! cheer to you for not joining the Youth Sports Rat Race if you don’t have too.

    • tricia says:

      Dearest Gatoramy, I thought about you as I wrote this post precisely because your girls DO love it so much. As committed as I am to not making our family pay homage to the sports monster, I’m equally as impressed when parents go the extra mile for their kids like you do. ALL CHEER FOR THE GATORAMY GIRLS!!! XO

  2. LU says:

    Out of all the couples we know with kids still in school there are only two couples who can keep their kids in the sports they love. One couple both teach. Dad is a coach at the private school the kids went to when they were little and my girlfriend, the mom, is a teacher at
    the High School. They are able to keep their eyes on their two kids and also all have pretty much the same schedule. It has paid off. Their son, the oldest is Nate Allen with the Eagles (who happened to win last night in the game against the Redskins). Their daughter – dating my nephew (who is planning to catch the NFL’s eye too) is still deciding the direction in which she will go. That brings me to the other couple. My ex-sister-in-law who happens to be the mom of my nephew that is dating Nate Allen’s sister. Are you confused yet? Point being it takes a LOT of money and a schedule that matches your children’s for a long, long time to pull off all this successful happenings in sports. I say your kids (and you along with your HFH)
    get this and are going to be okay as long as none of the kids goes berserk in demanding to play in one particular sport because that’s what he/she wants to be when grown up.

    • tricia says:

      Okay, Lu, that sounds like an upcoming Dr. Phil episode. But point taken! And yes, I guess if my kid was demanding it, I’d try a tiny bit harder….

  3. Donna DeForrest says:

    I totally agree sister! We are going to try some softball this spring, but I am doing so very carefully. I am hesitant because it is during the school year and we really have enough trouble with dance two times a week and school work. I played softball every summer from 3rd grade to 12th grade and enjoyed it. It was low key, we lost almost every game, and it was something else to keep us busy during the summer! But we don’t have any sports during the summer here.

  4. Valle says:

    you are such a wise mom…the sports thing is insane. Maybe 1 percent of kids will get the college scholarship (and seriously, I want my kid to study in college, not be weightlifting and practicing every day year round, with academics a very distant second priority).
    Sports is supposed to be fun — and if your kids get into it, start off right away by NOT attending practices, only games. Form carpools!
    The only time it’s good is when they get to high school and can just stay at school and practice. You don’t need to drive them anywhere AND you get extra quiet time at home — score!

    • tricia says:

      THERE you go! Club sports = no pressure and free energy-sapping. WINNING!

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