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Listen, Really, I Mean It: Sick of Kids' Sports

by Phyllis Lombardi

September 6, 2012

Can I be honest here?  Get ready, this might be fresh at times.
I am so sick of organized sports...I can just well, write about  it!

Has anyone stepped back and realized just how crazy the organized sports part of our kids lives has gotten? How we let this go so far?
When I was a kid, I know I sound like an old lady. ... But seriously when we were kids, you went outside and played. You used your imagination and your had fun. No stress, no score, no costly uniforms, bats, gloves or hotel rooms needed.

Today we are traveling to different states, one parent is in one state with one kid, while the other stays home with the rest of the family. And this is not once a month. NOOOO -- it's every weekend, during the season, which is summer, spring and fall, ohhh and winter, too, for some sports.
People race from one kid's field and game to the next; I have actually seen families eating spaghetti from a plastic zip lock bags in the car. What have we come to? What about meals at a table and family remember family?
When has family and why has family become so expendable?  
Sundays, what I wouldn't' give for Sundays like when I was a kid.
It wasn't what are you doing this weekend? It was what are WE doing this weekend? Sunday was for family, and whether it was at my house or one of my cousins, we were together. The subject was the menu and time never if we were getting together that was a given.
We grew up strong as a tree with mile long roots ...why? We had each other. Who would bully a pack of six relatives who played together? You never had to worry  if you fit in ... you were IN. It was your family, for goodness sakes. You knew you were loved, beautiful, smart and funny. They told you so and you believed it.
Sunday nights was poker for the parents after dinner that was served on plates, not in bags, and the kids got to play outside and wait for Mr. Softee.
I hate that my boys have to play with strangers now ... instead of their family. How I have to sit on in the bleachers on a Sunday at 6 pm instead of my aunt's kitchen. For what? What is the gain here? So some kids learn how to really throw a curve ball ...while before it was just stick ball and we made up some rules.
So what? Will that help him in life when a real curve ball comes his way? When he's going to need family to lean on and vent to, when he get's fired or god forbid has a health issue with one of his kids?
Family, even though it's family, is not a given. It must be nurtured and grown. To have the real relationships continue; time and life experiences must be shared. We are taking the time we have for granted playing on field in another state with total strangers.
Life is short as I look at my 48th birthday, I realize how short. Childhood is short. Let's stop massaging our kids so they don't get worked up before the big game. And not telling them who they are playing so they don't psych themselves out. And making them go to sleep early and rush and eat spaghetti out of plastic zip lock bags.
Let's keep things in perspective.
Yes, after-school sports are important and as a fat (but beautiful, yes, my family told me so) woman I realize how important. But that's enough! Yes, play after school for two hours on school team, and, okay, Saturday morning for a few hours too. But let's end it there. Weekends should be for family, sharing the cooking, card games and most important -- stressless.
Spend the weekend time building a bond that will support you in this very ugly at times world.
Team and responsibility lessons will be learned. Trust me, you don't need matching uniforms to learn that.
Let's remember what's important, before it's too late and before our whole family model is totally crushed. Family and unconditional love are what make our children confident and happy ... not winning a game with nine strangers.

Photo: Robert Batina, Columbus, OH. (rbatina on flickr)

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Phyllis Lombardi is an advocate, small business owner, chairperson of the Ardsley Schools PTA special needs committee and a board member of the Hudson Valley Advisory Family Council.

Also see : "Athletically Disinclined: My Counterpoint" by Gabrielle Korn in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See "Cheering or Being Cheered? My Daughter's Cheerleading Adventure" by Lu Bailey in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


Susan posted: 2012-09-10 19:46:04

You just said what I've been thinking for a long time. I thought I was the only one who felt this way. Beautifully said.....I hope people read it and really get the message.

Gretchen posted: 2012-09-10 19:46:10

Right on, Phyllis! All around we're putting too much pressure on kids these days. We need to step back a little to the simpler days and away from screen time and back to what's important.

Kathy posted: 2012-09-10 19:46:16

My kids were very involved in athletics from the time they were little. When they were in Middle School was when the "travel" stuff started. We were VERY fortunate to be able to attend the kids events together. We drew the line on Sunday's. It always aggravates me to see these tournaments going The One who created us!!

MJ posted: 2012-09-10 19:46:30

Thanks for your perspective. Very helpful food for thought as I near decision time regarding sports and my own children.

roz warren posted: 2012-09-10 19:46:38

I totally understand where you're coming from. And yet I believe that organized sports have been GREAT for girls. Sure, you can take it to crazy extremes. But I LOVED playing soccer in school as a kid in the 60s and being able to play on a team would have been bliss. I really missed out. And when I see how strong and confident my niece, who always excelled at team sports, is, in part as a result of that experience, I am so grateful that she had that opportunity.

barbara stern posted: 2012-09-18 20:08:54

wHAT A BEAUTIFUL ARTICLE..... i LOVE IT..... and agree with it

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