Kids sports too competitive

katie mcclurg

Kids used to come home from school, quickly finish their homework, and then go play some recreational soccer or baseball at a neighborhood park. But it seems today the intensity and emphasis on kids sports has drastically changed.

The pressure on kids today is overwhelming, with parents pushing for their children to be superior in everything they do. Although the ability level of the kids is increasing at an earlier age, they are more easily injured, under more stress, and can completely lose their passion for the game.

My eight year old cousin Connor was just like many kids his age, facing the same pressure from their parents and being stretched between playing club soccer four days a week, having traveling baketball pratice and tournaments up to five days a week, and fitting in lacrosse in the spring and summer. This was taking a toll on Connor’s health. Mid-sprint, dribbling the ball down the field, about to score and lead his pint-sized super-star soccer team to another victory, Connor collapsed. All of his training and overexertion led to a stress fracture in his ankle and a torn ligament.

This injury led to six months of rehabilitation and possible future injuries. Unaccustomed to having free time, Connor didn’t know what to do with himself when his schedule wasn’t jam packed. His mom felt that although his injury was unfortunate it taught them all a valuable lesson: that sometimes kids just need to be kids.

This is a lesson that many of the pushing parents haven’t learned yet. For example, my neighbor has a similarly strenuous schedule to Connor’s, and the pressure has made him lose his desire to even play anymore. His dad, a former college basketball player, pushed his kids so hard because he wanted them to have the same opportunities he did, but unintentionally he got caught up in making them dominate and took the fun out of the sport for his kids.

Kids are still young and growing, so when they are forced to focus all their energy into one thing such as sports, they miss out on so many other opportunities. Also, when children who have only done one thing their whole lives get injured, they have nothing else to turn back on.

Let’s face it; not every eight year old basketball player is going to be the next Michael Jordan, so why not let them have a little fun while they are still kids.