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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Scandals, Sports, Scores & Schedules

By Katie M

In my house growing up, if you weren’t playing a sport full-time then you were watching and cheering one either on TV or on the side-lines. We were a pretty athletic family – and I guess a little competitive too – but it was the basis of my upbringing. I couldn’t have imagined it any other way. Sure we tried our hand at being well-rounded in other ways, such as learning an instrument or running for student office. But it was playing sports that ultimately taught me a lot of life lessons that I still fall back on today.

And with the all the recent talk about Tiger Woods– and all the playground chatter about who’s child is playing what sport – I thought I’d dedicate today’s post to some random ponderings related to scandals, sports, scores and scheduling. But I’m just tossing out some thoughts and am hoping you’ll catch on and play the comment game at the end of this blog!

So with the Masters coming up this weekend, there's no time than now to lead off with scandal! First let me say that as much as I love to watch golf, I’ve never been a Tiger fan. As much as he seemed a great guy (and of course a great player) I always thought he seemed a bit arrogant and sometimes downright spoiled. So when the scandal broke I may have been initially surprised but I’m not shocked. I am, however, addicted to all the stories that have come out about this scandal. Yet despite all the articles I’ve read and interviews I’ve watched, I can’t help but think about all the kids (especially those who idolized Tiger) who are exposed to these same stories.

Talk about a life lesson learned early. Fortunately my kids are too young to have any interest in this story, but I’d love to know how other parents have dealt with this situation with their children. What kind of messages did you communicate? Did you bring up the conversation first or did your children ask you about it? How did you help them make a distinction between a role model and a hero?

Speaking of Tiger, he started golf at the ripe age of two! According to (because yes I “Googled” his career), Woods made an appearance on The Michael Douglas show at age two where he hit a drive and had a putting contest with comedian Bob Hope. At age three, Woods shot a 48 over nine holes at the Navy Golf Club in Cypress, California, and at age five, he appeared on ABC's That's Incredible. In 1984 at the age of eight he won the 9-10 year old boys' event, the youngest age group available, at the Junior World Golf Championships.

Ok, my son is three and he can barely catch a basketball let alone hit a tiny ball on the ground. So that leads to my next question: How young is too young for sports? And does it really make sense to sign your toddler up for an organized sport or is that a waste of money? I’ve heard an argument that any sport before the age of eight is too early because a child’s coordination has not fully developed. But I am definitely guilty of breaking that rule. So what are your thoughts on this subject?

Switching gears, another topic I have mulled over is the whole concept of not keeping score in children’s sports. I get that it’s to protect the feelings of the players and preserve their interest in the sport. And to keep parents from getting too competitive too. But what about teaching the lesson that it’s ok to lose? Or that it’s ok to work hard to be the best you can be? I have only had limited exposure to youth sports since being a mom, and the programs we’ve been involved with have kept score. Are there “scoreless” sports programs in the Triad? Have you been involved in that? What do you think about this concept?

And finally, the last thing I want to bat around is the topic of scheduling – or to be more specific: over scheduling with sports. This whole subject intrigues me because it’s one of those things where I say now, “I’ll never have my child play more than one sport at a time.” Yet I know I’ll be eating those words in a few years.

So why do we do this to ourselves? My brother and his wife have four children between the ages of 13 and seven and they spend their ENIRE weekends tirelessly driving the kids from one sports event to the next (and sometimes taking two cars when events overlap). I know they are not the exception; this is a common weekend occurrence for lots of families. So how does it get this way? Is this usually the request of the child or do you think parents push this kind of schedule? Do you think a child could ever play too many sports in one season? And is this even something to debate since it seems inevitable and just part of our parental life?

Ok, now it’s your turn. Please step up to the plate and lob a few comments, questions, concerns or conversations my way! If you are unsure how to leave a comment below, click here to find out the simple steps!

Smarties, don't forget to register for this month's give-away with Whitebox Photography. Just be sure you are a Triad Smarty Pants newsletter subscriber, then click here to enter your name in the giveaway! We will choose a winner through on April 9, 2010 and will contact you that day!


Sarah said...

My son played soccer this fall and they did not keep score. I will admit that I didn't like it as much. If they are signed up for an organized sport, I feel like they should keep score. If we don't want scores, we'll play soccer at home for fun. Not that it shouldn't all be fun, but I agree that they need to learn that all will not always be rosy in life and that it is just as important to be a good loser as a good winner.

Carrie said...

My two oldest boys also play soccer at the YMCA where they don't keep score and I like it. They loved the games and always came away wanting more. Would that be the case if they knew they had lost almost every game? I don't know. My oldest even told a player on the other team who was taunting him that "it's not about winning, it's about having fun." Isn't that the right message when they are only three and five years old? My three year old scored a goal and was thrilled even though it was against his own team! If they had been keeping score would he have felt shame instead of pride? I do think they need to start keeping score at some point, and I think my now 6 year old is there, but the three year old, just let them have fun.
About over scheduling, that is tough. My husband's philosophy is let them try what they want to try when they are young so they can find something they really love. Of course he does not drive them to all of their activities! We try not to do more than two things at once.

Katie M said...

Summer, thanks for your great comments! The same person who said kids probably shouldn't start sports until around 8 also said the chances of getting a scholarship worth any real $$$ is slim to none. I can't believe parents with kids so young are thinking about that! And despite the fact I played soccer most of my young life, I switched to field hockey in high school (as did every girl on my team) and we made it to the state tournament every year and many went on to play Division I in college - so take that! :)

Happy 2 Be Me said...

I'm a new mommy of a 10 month old, as well as an early childhood specialist and both me and my husband grew up playing sports and other extra curricular activities as well. When my daughter is old enough to be signed up for dance, soccer, basketball, believe me she will be. Both my husband and I believe the best way for her to find out what she loves will be to expose her to as many things as we can for her to decide later on what she will commit to.

As far as score keeping, I think not keeping score for certain age groups are age appropriate however, at some point children and their parents do need to realize some people win and some lose. Some people are going to do things better than you can. But as parents we teach our children to be good sport towards others as well as themselves. I think sports teaches us so many things about who we are. I agree with Summer when she said "Natural athletes, are naturally athletic!" My husband had a four year basketball scholorship and even at his age and lack of exercise he still plays better than a lot of his friends that persued a career overseas playing. My sister as well got a four year scholarship playing basketball and she's now in the WNBA. They both are natural athelete.

Like I said earlier I will encourage and hope my daughter and future kids take up some kind of sport because I feel more good comes from it than bad as long as both parents, coaches, and child have the right attitude and approach about it.

Courtney said...

I love this topic!

Re: Keeping Score
I don't think it would ever become popular for organized sports teams to not keep score. I think it would be fine for the kids and a great lesson, but I just don't think the parents and coaches could handle it. They could argue that it's not an accurate reflection of society.

Re: Over-Scheduling
It is so sad to see kids burnt out before they even get to high school or middle school even. I think our rule will be one activity at a time per child.

Re: Too Early to Start?
I don't think it's too early to do anything. Of course, the danger lies in the emphasis of it all. Just like "Toddlers and Tiaras" everything can get to a point where it's too much. Everything in moderation, you know? However, there are all kinds of valuable lessons to be learned from organized activities no matter what age you are!

Anonymous said...

This is a great topic for me since, this Saturday, I will be at the soccer field with my three-year-old at the same time as my husband will be coaching my five-year-old's T-ball team.

I grew up out in the Boonies, and there weren't many sports for girls. I was a majorette, but what I really wanted to do was play baseball. I never got to play an organized sport. In middle school, I got very near-sighted and also less active. I went from a kid who was outside constantly and was very athletic to one who lacked confidence in any sport. To this day, I think I am less active than I would have been if I played an organized sport.

So, while I don't think it should be over-emphasized, and I definitely think kids should not be overscheduled, I think that letting your child play a sport gives them body confidence and team-building skills that last a lifetime.

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