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Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Kids sports becoming too intense too soon



armwood.jpgMy friend and colleague Ernest Hooper has a column worth reading as he watches his son and his Armwood High football teammates take on Bishop Gorman, Nevada's defending Class 4A state champions in Las Vegas this weekend. Behind the obvious pride are some worry lines.

Ernest is a rabid sports fan, and a former NFL reporter. So this isn't some dweeb who doesn't get it when he says he's getting worried that kids sports are becoming too intense too soon:

"Clearly, the line separating prep and youth sports from the high-stakes college and pro game continues to be blurred, and I worry about the long-term repercussions," he writes. ... "As the emphasis goes from fun and games to national rankings and scholarships, the potential for injury and burnout rises. The promise of a tuition-free trip to college often drives moms and dads to the financial brink."

He's covered high school sports as a reporter so he remembers when the kids were thrilled just to get their name in the paper. Now they end up on scouting web sites before they are in middle school.

"Honestly, how much longer can we act surprised when these kids, driven by a sense of entitlement, go off to college and violate rules? We've been filling their heads with grandeur since they were 8. ... How much is too much?"

I'll take it one further. My kids like sports, but I am not encouraging any kind of club level play. We'll do recreational leagues for as long as we can, and believe me it's hard to even find recreational leagues after the age of 10 or so. I would even go so far as to say I am discouraging it. I would much rather they just learn the game, have some fun and we'll save for college instead of burning out his arm trying to win a scholarship.

Maybe my distaste for the growing competitiveness means I'm cutting my kids off from a valueable experience. But so far, no one's complaining.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Photo: Armwood High football players practice footwork drills in July [DANIEL WALLACE | Times].

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[Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2011 5:27pm]


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