Pushing Sports on Our Kids

Swim team

Swim team

Disclaimer - First let me say I might piss some of you parents off with this post or maybe ruffle a feather here and there. You might think I am insulting your parenting but please do not take this post personally. This post is only to spark a conversation or maybe shed light on a possible future your child might have to experience.

Back in March or maybe February, other parents started asking the dreaded question. What are your plans for summer camps? Since this was Paley’s first real summer, able to participate in unique and fun camps, a lot of pressure was on us to keep her busy during the summer with these outlets for energy. 

Sadly after deep contemplation and envisioning the impending dread of carting Paley around all summer with her brother and sister in tow, we opted for the easy solution. One camp, all summer. I applaud and feel for all you parents out there who went the other direction. One parent that I met last summer was keeping his two children on a daily rotation of 3 camps or activities per day. Here is why “I” dread this path, while this parent has two children over the age of 4 (meaning they can get in and out of the car on their own), I still have to do car seat buckles and carry my children to and from the stroller and buckle them in. On average I am lugging my twins in and out of the car on average 6-8 times a day and that with just one activity in Paley’s schedule. If I did 2-3 activities, that would mean double digits for me. So Yes, I took the easy road. I am not ashamed!

The activities or camps discussion also sparked a topic that I have been going back and forth on for a year now. Paley is getting close to the age of when I started summer league swimming. What I’ve found to be right about summer league today, it isn’t the same when I was a child. Practices for summer league are more often, and swim meets are more often because there are so many teams today. In talking with parents about swim teams in the area, most have commented parents are getting more and more aggressive about their child being on the “BEST” team in the area. Of course opinions vary! Some parents even expressed how their child should be on year round. Even at the age of 6, kids are taking on sports year-round. 

Now I am not discounting parents intentions or vision of their child excelling in said sport. But I’ve been fearing my child too young because I know the dangers and hard truth of starting a child too young in a sport. My experience with year-round swim teams began at the age of 7. I started a summer league swim team. After two summers of summer league, I joined the local USS swim team (year round). I did baseball and soccer, and I was too bored during practices and games. I was also useless on the field. "Always in my own little world." Swimming kept going, and I found myself more interested in being apart of a team. I strongly recommend swimming as a sport for children, my experience swimming as a child is most undoubtedly memorable and positive. I swan USS for 10 years before having to retire in the middle of my senior year because of the tendinitis in both of my shoulders. My shoulders were in so much because of the tendinitis, I would sit in class or bed and just scream inadvertently from the pain. By the time I had retired the vast majority of friends of my friends who I had started swimming year-round with at the age of 9, were no longer swimming. 

Because of my personal experience, I have been seriously thinking about sports recently. All of those swimming friends who left the sport before me, left either because they were burnt out or had serious injuries. The friends who continued with their careers through college all started at a later age. Most of them didn’t begin USS till they were 11 or 12. So consider this when thinking about all those parents who are pushing you to get your kids in professional sports at an early age. While it’s attractive to see your child competing so young, keep in mind the end game. Your child might grow some distaste for the sport sooner than you think. What is our plan, right now, I am keeping swimming on the back burner, and I think we might keep the kids in lessons and let them decide somewhat someday?