Our family has just entered a new world, the world of sports! Our son, Connor, started his first season of soccer recently. This is something that my husband and I have talked about since before having children. We both loved sports as kids and have hoped that our children would feel the same.
I know myself and how competitive I am, so I knew going into this I would have to be really careful about how much pressure I put on either of my children when we entered this phase of life. I want to make sure that I am never pushing them into things that they do not enjoy just so that I can live vicariously through them. I want to encourage them to learn valuable skills, be healthy, and most importantly, have fun with their peers. I want my son to learn how to lose graciously and win with honor. I want him to learn that to excel, you have to put in the work, even if you have natural talent.
These are lessons that I believe he can carry through every avenue of his life. I believe sports can help teach these lessons.
Now if you have ever been to a 4/5-year old’s soccer game, you know that it mostly resembles cats being herded in many different directions. The kids all cluster and kick and sometimes go in the wrong direction. Our son seems to like to run and cheer his teammates on but is careful to keep clear of the ball at all costs. If it is his turn to be on the bench, his attention gets diverted to all the lone soccer balls sitting around just asking to be played with. Typical 4-year-old behavior really.
At his last practice, his foot got stepped on and he wasn’t really sure he still wanted to play. Then he had to go against another boy and the ball was taken from him, which made him run down the field crying. I had a conversation with a mom and mentioned maybe we would try T-Ball next time, something with less contact. This conversation left me more concerned than encouraged about this new path we have entered. It was said to me that T-ball, and baseball are taken pretty seriously and that if he wanted to progress and be able to play in the long run he would need to start now.
They mentioned the amount of weekday games and practices and all I could think was ‘what happens next year when he starts school?’ A schedule like that and he is going to be exhausted! And I would be too!
So where do we draw the line, I am all for sports, as I said, I loved playing as a kid. But I don’t remember starting them until I was much older and asked or begged my mom to let me start playing until really getting serious when sports were part of school.