Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Juggling Youth Sports

Here's a link to a Wall Street Journal article from a while back about juggling kids activities, particularly their sports teams, with family time. Sue Shellenbarger examines the choices families make and where some draw the line and say enough is enough.

One group in Minnesota, Balance4Success, draws the line on Sunday activities, and has started its own movement called Taking Back Sundays. They ask participants to pledge to boycott Sunday sports in the interest of not allowing their kids to be over scheduled. They stress the importance of obtaining the proper balance in kids' lives among sports, school, family time and unorganized free time.

Shellenbarger also ponders the motivation behind parents that push their kids to pursue athletics seriously at a young age.  Having grown kids of her own that were athletes, she speaks from experience about putting youth sports in the proper perspective. While agreeing that participation in youth sports has significant benefits, she points out that only 2% of high school athletes get college scholarships (and many of those include only a small percentage of tuition and expenses - less than academic scholarships). Looking back, she says it's the interaction with teammates and families that are most remembered by her family - not the on-field accomplishments.

This is a good look into the growing backlash against the "more is better" trend in youth sports these days. Whether we are tempted to have our kids specialize in one sport, or we are considering allowing them to participate in multiple activities at once, we all have choices to make and there are risks to consider - burnout, overuse injuries, over-scheduling, etc. - real issues that threaten to take the fun out of kids' games.

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