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Forcing kids to participate in sports may cause them to quit
email@example.com - Staff Writer
My enthusiasm for
around the age of seven
or eight when I realized
Still, it greatly out
lasted any passion I may
have held for baseball
— I never could get bat
and ball to connect. The
only sport I could ever
wrap my head around
was golf, my zeal for
which was somehow not diminished the day I was
nearly run over by a golf cart.
These were the three sports my parents encouraged
me to dabble in as a child. I was lucky my parents
didn’t make a push for, say, soccer or something ^
equally dreadful, and luckier still that they weren t
the kind of people for whom athletic prowess was
the be-all, end-all talent their child might possess.
But not all children can be so fortunate. A stag
gering amount of kids participate in some form o
organized sports. Depending on which studies you
believe, the number hovers somewhere between
21.5 million and 28.7 million, which doesn’t count
the millions more who participate in non-organized
sports. According to a study published in “ESPN the
Magazine” this summer, 60 percent of boys and 47
percent of girls play on a team by age 6.
Organized sports can serve a huge purpose in
developing social skills in young children, and they
promote the kind of healthy, active lifestyle which
could combat rising childhood obesity statistics.
But when sports become a catch-all expectation
for children, it becomes clear parents need to work
closely with their kids to make sure the experience
won’t be damaging.
It can be difficult to match kids up with the activ
ity they find most engaging. In the same study, 45
percent of the children surveyed had already quit the
sport in which they were involved. More often than
not, the same line of reasoning held sway for both
boys and girls; “I was not having fun.”
Combine the statistics for not getting along with
other teammates and feeling inadequate in abil
ity and these complaints come in at a pretty close
Sports can be monumentally stressful for young
children. Their parents cast them out on to a field
or an asphalt court in the sweltering heat to com
pete with a group of strangers. The coach divides
them into teams, and suddenly one half of the group
puts pressure on them to win while the other taunts
them, telling them they will surely lose. The parents,
meanwhile, may be on the sideline getting belliger
ent, knowing trophies and medals make good cur
rency for proving their parenting prowess.
That last part didn’t hold true for me. My parents
weren’t the type to measure my worth in awards.
They also recognized fear of public failure racked
me with anxiety and made team sports a bad fit.
When 1 was in the fourth grade, I gave golf lessons a
shot, with their encouragement.
Not being tied to a team allowed me to develop my
skills and recognize my flaws on my own time, sepa
rate from taunts and jeers or pressure from coaches
and parents. More importantly, it let me have fun.
When parents realize their children may not be right
for the typical fare of basketball, baseball and soc
cer, they can guide them to other activities like golf,
tennis or swimming which give them all the benefits
of organized sports with none of the worries.
Sports have become more and more ubiquitous
and more and more necessary as children find
themselves enticed with the lures of the PlayStation
4 or the iPad. Kids need to find physical activity to
balance out all the time spent on Angry Birds. But
parents need to help their children find the right
sport, lest they buckle under anxiety and reject the
continued from page 14
“Oh OK ” she said. “I was just wondering.’’
I turned back around, my eyes widening in hoiTor.
While I remained busy confirming my relationship
to him and trying to hide my embarrassment, my
father drifted off the bleachers and onto the ac-
tual court. Although he stayed behind the line that
denoted out of bounds and closer to the bleachers,
he still removed himself from the I m a supportive
parent” category and into the “I m that parent. No
wait. I’m the coach” fiasco.
I hung my head and watched the game through my
fingers for the rest of the game. I felt worse for Bri-
anna than I did for myself. She probably had to deal
with this every game and I was just getting a taste of
what she put up with every week.
After the game, we met my sister outside the gym
nasium and she gave me the exact same look that my
mother gave me.
“Did you hear him?” she asked me.
“How could you not?” I replied.
“Now you see what I have to deal with,” she said.
“Yeah, sorry about that.”
For an hour or so, my dad thought he was Coach
K., leading Michael Jordan to another record break
ing championship. In reality, he was just a normal
parent cheering on a normal child. She didn’t play
basketball to make it to the WNBA or the Olympics,
but just because she loved the game. Shouldn’t that
be the reason we cheer?
Needless to say, my sister quit playing basketball
a year later. Although she said her reasons stemmed
from her teammates and coaches, which 1 Relieve,
I also think she got tired of my father yelling at her
and her teammates the entire game. I think the em-
baiTassment just got to heavy to handle. And; to be
honest, I don’t blame her.
See, I love my dad, I really do. But that just ain’t