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Let children decide whether to participate in sports

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Let children decide when the time is right for sports — if at all

Seattle Again: (Following up from yesterday, on the twin boys who want to quit baseball:) I agree that my 10-year-olds need to pick something and stick to it, sports-wise. Part of the problem is today's hyper-sports culture for kids. In my day, it was no big deal to pick up a sport in junior or even senior high. Now it seems that if you don't do the sport from preschool on, you will be passed by.

I think this is what my husband fears with baseball. The boys do love swimming, biking and kung fu, so they are fine athletically. Just not so much on the baseball!

Carolyn: Agh. This makes me crazy. People are still picking up competitive sports as teenagers — and recreational sports at any point in life.

Meanwhile, if they drop baseball this spring, they can pick it up at a summer camp. And while they'll be a little behind from the lost months, they'll be far more likely to make up the ground quickly if they have a burning desire to get back in the game — which they'll have, because that, not Daddy's motivational engineering, will be the reason they sign up again.

Finally: Notice what the sports they like have in common? Limited to no hand-eye coordination required, at least early on. If they don't have it, they'll never take to baseball.

Oh, and your kids don't need a sport. The rule for activities of any kind ought to be: Let them follow their natural interests (i.e., not their parents').

Anonymous: Re: Seattle: I was in band and choir in junior high because Mom thought we should be. I wasn't musical and was at times harassed by the teachers and students. I wanted to learn a foreign language, but Mom didn't see any value in that because I was "already involved in band and choir." Any time I wanted to quit I was berated for not being able to follow through.

If dad keeps signing them up, it has no bearing on their future stick-to-itiveness. Also, a lot of adults try hobbies, find they don't have the talent and see no further need to "stick with it." Learning when to call it quits is also a good skill.

Carolyn: A deceptively simple point, thanks, and it's well-taken: Parents really can't expect kids to kids to follow through on electives the parents elect for them.

Anonymous: Re: Seattle: Know what else swimming, biking and kung fu have in common? They're all individual sports. But I'm a theater person who thought all sports were evil until I was 25, so what do I know.

Carolyn: A lot! Thanks.

Anonymous 3: Re: Seattle: I'd also consider that it's not baseball they dislike, but dad's involvement. If it's so important to him that they do well, then they'll pick up on his disappointment. That's a lot of pressure, and may turn off any love they have for a sport. Maybe rent The Bad News Bears and keep playing the scene where the kid looks at his dad yelling and intentionally drops the ball. Man, I love that scene!

Carolyn: Me too. After all this, I could use a little Tanner Boyle.

Let children decide whether to participate in sports 03/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 10:27am]
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