The jokes on us…and our wallets

My kids play sports.  All kinds of sports, all seasons, all year round.  When one season ends, another starts up.  There really is no break in the action, but I’m ok with that.  I’m a firm believer in kids needing to be in activities, not be become the next star professional, not for a college scholarship, but to learn a game, to learn teamwork, to have someone your accountable to, to learn sportsmanship, to learn leadership, to learn how to win, and to learn how to lose.  And let me tell you, my kids lose, a lot, but that never bothers me.  There are great lessons learned in losing.  Not only does it teach one grace and character, but its a great learning lesson for the skill or techniques that needs improvement if one wants to win in the future.  I’m more then willing to pay the fees, drive to the practices and events, wash the gear, and sit through all the events.

What I don’t ‘get’ and am becoming increasingly frustrated with are these so called select teams.  My children have played all their different sports with recreational leagues.  For those of you unversed in the difference, here’s the short version.  Recreational leagues are ones where you sign up, pay money, get put on a team, learn a sport, play a sport, the end.  Select teams are ones where you tryout, are judged as to whether you would be good based on one hour, if picked, pay 3 or 4 times the fees of a recreational team, play a sport, the end.  What I don’t get is why we all think we need this for our kids.  My guess is that in this money-focused, celebrity-focused, gotta get my kid a full ride to college, my kid should be the next _______(fill in athlete based on sport) so that I can retire and be rich society, we have lost focus on the fact that these are KIDS and organized sports are supposed to teach kids a sport, a skill, a love of a game, NOT make them our meal ticket; either the parents meal ticket nor the organizations.

My son plays three sports, all at a recreational level; football, basketball, and baseball.  He’s a natural athlete and leader, super competitive, and aggressive on the field of play.  He’s been on winning teams and losing teams, all of which have taught him lessons and skills.   I think the most important thing he’s learned from each sport was the love of that sport.  Sure he learned the rules, the positions, the ins and outs, but while being taught the game, he learned to love the sport.  He had failures and a coach explained techniques or missteps. He improved.  He did better.  He listened to instructions and saw success.  He felt personal achievement at not knowing how to do something, working hard, getting better, and succeeding.  That his last basketball season.  He’s played a few years, so knew things like dribbling, passing, shooting, but knew nothing of plays, positions, defenses.  He had kids brand new to the game who literally couldn’t dribble.  They were a mess.  With dedication, practice, coaching, hard work, that team won half of its games during the regular season.  They entered the tournament near the bottom of the seeding, won four games moving up through the bracket, and played in the championship game…CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!  That is learning a sport.

My daughter has a lot of heart and drive.  She wants to play sports and has done ok in some of them.  She’s not a stand out athlete, but she’s a great teammate, will listen to directions, improve and give her all.  She played a season of recreational basketball and loved the game so much, she asked to play more.  Now I know that she is not very skilled, which is why I set out to find her a team to join where she could learn the game, learn the skills and improve.  All the sites I searched talked about how they have a “mission” to teach a sport or a love of the game to kids.  They all call themselves select.  They all have tryouts.  So I contacted one.  The coach invited her to attend a few weeks of practice before tryouts.  She went.  She was so excited.  He invited her to sit on the bench during their tournament games.  He invited her to tryouts.  Then he didn’t pick her for his team.  At tryouts, there were girls that were more skilled than my daughter.  I know, this is why I’m looking for a team for her so she can LEARN a sport.  She’s 11.  These development teams are supposed to teach the game and technique to kids, not just stack themselves with kids who already know how to play.  I’ve searched and searched for recreational leagues, but there are none to be found.   So now I have to break a little’s girls heart.  How does this foster a love for the game?





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