I just read 2 different social media posts that spoke about being undefeated (2-0) in the World Series. Now being 2-0 in “the” World Series is obviously a big deal but what’s ironic about these two World Series events is that they were for six and eight year old boys. Really, six and eight year old World Series? It’s my parenting choice, but I want to tell you why my family chooses to play and not pay.
Now I understand that every parent is trying to do what is best for their child. However, I believe we have failed to look at the ramifications. Take this statistic for example: “Over 70% of kids who begin a sport before they are eight will not play that sport in Middle School”. So all those World Series Championships and the money spent attaining them really amount to very little during the time in their life when they need coaches. I can tell you that I love sports and it is actually my vocation but my children are all under the age of 9 and right now I don’t need to spend money on coaching and youth sporting events. I would rather spend time on parenting and teaching life skills.
Elementary kids need parents and parents need to get out and play. At our house we play every game. Kickball, baseball, four square, volleyball, mountain biking and any other game we can conjure up. During all of this play time our kids and all the other kids in the neighborhood are learning the rules, figuring how to make the field of play, learning skills, and most importantly connecting on their own. And yes there is conflict and plenty of it but fortunately the seven year olds work it out rather than the parents fighting in the stands. You laugh because you know it’s true, have seen it happen, or maybe even participated in the occasional parental shout match. Relax, they are eight and no one really cares! Attaining sport related skill doesn’t require a personal coach, private lessons, etc. Most importantly it requires time. At our house we have yet to step on a softball diamond but we play catch daily and have home run derby’s quite often. It’s amazing the amount of reps our kids receive all in the name of play and with little financial investment. Play is important because it’s life giving. Let’s be honest, competition is life draining. That’s why many walk away from sport too early because they are simply over it. When they need it most they are ready to hang it up. Let’s give them a chance to win a World Series that matters.
I encourage you to look at why you are going to the ballpark, the basketball gym, etc. It’s in no way, shape, or form bad but maybe your family could be spending that time more wisely and accomplish the same things. Go by a cheap bat, a bucket of balls, a cheap goal, some field paint, and some bases and take your kids outside. As a parent you are the greatest teacher in their life and you can be the greatest example of what it means to be active. I can assure you that if athletic greatness is in their cards then choosing play over choosing to pay will not hold them back. It might actually be the choice that gives them the greatest chance!