Monday, September 25, 2017

What is the Role of Youth Sports?



Our youngest is almost twelve weeks old and I soon go back to work full-time as a teacher and she is struggling with bottle feeding. If I told you that I'm taking the transition well I would be lying. I am looking forward to a more consistent routine but despite our best efforts, I'm terrified that she is going to scream all day just wanting her momma. 



I took a break from my anxiety to enjoy watching my son play t-ball for the first time. Baby E and I met my husband and son at the field. I was quite proud of myself because, through all of my anxiety tears, I had managed to accomplish a lot and was ready to enjoy the joyous sight of my little boy running, jumping, learning, making new friends and getting exercise.  It is evident that I am very naive in regards to organized youth sports, I had no idea the incredible pressure many parents place on their three-year-old to be a perfect t-ball player. By "pressure" I mean threatening them that they'll "never get into a college with that throw" or that "they'll lose all of their toys if they don't hit that ball far enough".  I'm still trying to make sense of all the conversations and comments being made. 

I assumed that youth sports, especially for three-year-olds, was to get exercise, create friendships, learn the game, learn sportsmanship and increase coordination. Or at least that is what I want my kid to get out of it. I want him to learn how to play the game. I want him to feel the awesome feeling of winning and to be humbled by realizing that another team was better. I want him to feel part of a team and learn how to work with others. I want him to crave physical activity so that he continues to exercise as he gets older. Most of all, I want him to have fun and try new things. 

When did youth sports become so competitive that parents are pressuring three-year-olds to do better, practice more, and work harder?  We corrected our son when he started building sandcastles in the outfield or spinning in circles in the dugout. We believe he should be paying attention and not wasting anyone's time but he doesn't need to feel the pressure of being perfect. He should know that nobody is perfect, you should do your best and the reality is your best may not be as good as someone else's best and that is okay.

 As a middle school teacher, I can't begin to tell you how many mental health and anxiety disorders are being diagnosed on a weekly basis in adolescents. I can't help but wonder if the pressures that society is placing on children at such a young age is contributing to children feeling so overwhelmed to be perfect. 

Maybe I am naive about youth sports and maybe all youth teams are this way. I know my perspective is often very different than most as I try to approach each day with an appreciation for the ability to live it. I have a very complicated medical history and most likely will never be fortunate enough to grow old so I try not to sweat the small stuff. We will continue to navigate the ins and outs of youth sports and hope to bring a little fun to what should be a fun experience. 

~Stephanie~ 

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