Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Was Right!

I knew I was right! Ok, it doesn't happen often, but this time I knew there was some validity to my opinion.

Kids need more spontaneous play time. And I have proof. In an LiveScience article about bullying, a child behavior expert agrees with me. (Child behavior expert? Ha! Isn't that just a fancy word for "mother"?)Anyway, this expert claims:

"...the social skills children gain on the playground or elsewhere could show up later in life...Unstructured playtime — that is, when children interact without the guidance of an authority figure — is when children experiment with the relationship styles they will have as adults."

Yes! Scientific proof! This is the first time I've ever been backed up by scientific proof! I think I'm gonna have a t-shirt made. And maybe bumper stickers. I WAS RIGHT. AND EVEN THE SCIENTISTS AGREE WITH ME.

So there you go, all you hovering helicopter moms and you control freak grade school playground monitors. Leave the kids alone and let them play.

This scientific revelation also brings us back to the question of organized youth sports. Are we doing our kids a disservice by sticking them in these programs from an early age? I remember hearing, when I was a kid, about how Nadia Comaneci was forced down the gymnastics path from the womb, practically. I remembering hearing how those other countries took their young prodigies and forced them to focus on nothing but their chosen sport. I remember parents protesting that this was no life for a child. Now, I'm not saying we're as bad as the Romanians once were, but are we starting to slide down that slippery slope?

Studies show that common sports injuries that used to plague adult athletes are now being seen in teenagers. Dr. Phil recently produced a show about a man who injected his young son with steroids so the boy could compete at a higher level in speed skating. The dad is now in jail and is still pretty much unrepentant. Unfortunately, the boy is banned from an activity he has great passion for. Closer to home, even I know that my kids must play organized youth sports if they are to have even the remotest chance to experience the thrill and excitement of competing for their high school team.

So what's a roaring mom to do? Buck the system? Boycott the evil mind control that is organized youth sports? And in doing so prevent our children from the arguably worthwhile experience of high school athletic endeavors? Which, by the way, can be considered another important social skill-building experience. Or do we give in? If your child has a passion for a particular sport, do you even have a choice? Are we powerless against the tsunami that is organized youth sports?

After faithfully fulfilling almost a decade of soccer mom duties, I still don't know the answer. But at this point, I think I'm sucked in already. And with another decade ahead of me, I'm pretty sure I'll be washed away and pulled under before I figure it all out.

So,please, someone throw me a life line! I'm drowning here. You'll be able to spot me pretty easily. I'm the one in the brightly colored t-shirt with the big letters that read, "I WAS RIGHT!"


  1. I've never been a huge fan of organized sports outside of school. Not a whole lot inside school, either. And it's not that I hate sports.

    Softball, baseball, soccer, biddy basketball, and all the others that parents stick kids in are mostly for the parents. I've seen kids who were expected to participate and be better than all the rest. It gave the parents bragging rights. These are the parents who can't stop coaching from the bleachers. "Sally, be ready, stand up straight, throw harder..." There's nothing like a nagging parents to spoil what might otherwise be fun.

    The problem with school sports in some schools is the coaches who play the students whose parents have the most pull in the school.

    Don't get me wrong. My three oldest daughters played softball every summer. It took hours to coordinate three girls, each on a different team located in a different town, and all playing the same nights. But I did it. Sometimes I even enjoyed it. They played basketball in grade school and volleyball in high school. I'd watch, but I wasn't there to coach, unless they asked my opinion after the game.

    Give a kid a basketball or a baseball bat and ball or a soccer ball, and he/she will be joined by other kids. They'll make up their own rules and end up going home, tired, happy, and still friends. Keep grownups out of it!

  2. You are so right, Rox! Organized sports would be great if we let the kids run it! My oldest went to soccer camp one year and the coodinator spoke to the parents after. He told us that at that level, the girls obviously liked the sport or they still wouldn't be playing, but if they weren't enjoying playing it, it was the fault of some adult--namely a coach or parent.

    And those parents who coach from the sideline, they ruin the game for me. I can only imagine what the kid thinks. That's why I try to keep my comments limited to "Go Team!"