It never fails, every time I meet someone new and the conversation steers towards my kids, I’m always asked the same question: Are your kids involved in sports?
And my answer is no.
It’s not that we’re anti-sports around these parts — far from it. Quite simply, the emotional, physical, and social benefits of youth sports are undeniable. So what’s our problem?, you’re probably asking yourselves. Honestly, our kids aren’t involved in sports because they’re really not all that into it.
But sports are good for them, you’ll tell me. And I’ll agree.
Tell me the decision shouldn’t be theirs, that they don’t know what’s best for them, and I’ll listen. Just as I always do.
But I won’t involve my kids in sports.
Then I’ll tell you that I had both kids in bowling for a while and it was a generally good time. My kids learned a lot of valuable lessons from the experience, but when the season ended they had no interest in continuing. I had BooBoo in mixed martial arts designed for wee things for a stint and it was alright too. Boy Wonder took a stab at a dodgeball league and in the end decided it wasn’t for him.
Nowhere in any of these organized sports were my kids particularly enjoying themselves. For all the time and money that I sacrificed, I would rather have enrolled them in an activity that better suited their talents or interests.
Listen, I’m all for forcing extra-curricular activities when they’re worth enforcing. Boy Wonder has been in art class for five years and every Saturday morning it’s a damn struggle to get him there. I force it because he likes the class, even if he doesn’t like getting showered and dressed to go there. I also force art because he has raw talent that deserves development and yeah, the discipline art requires won’t kill him. BooBoo also recently developed an interest in art that I’m looking to encourage as well.
The point is, it’s OK for kids not to be involved in sports and saying as much doesn’t make me bad parent. I don’t believe my sons’ lack of participation in youth sports makes them any less able to work in a team environment or any more likely to struggle with adult obesity, no matter what the statistics suggest.
If my kids would rather play hard outside with the neighborhood kids than go to Tuesday and Thursday practice and play Saturday games, what’s the harm in that? They’re exercising, they’re interacting, and they’re playing what they want to play, the way that they want to play it.
I’ll push what needs pushing when I see the value in doing so and for the moment, organized sports isn’t doing it.
Maybe in the future, my kids will change their minds about organized sports. When and if they do, I’ll be there to sign them up and support them all the way, but if their heart isn’t in it, than why should mine be?
Please share your thoughts! Should all kids be in organized sports?