In Defense Of Youth Sports


In Defense of Youth Sports I’ll be the first person to tell you that I am exhausted from running my kids around to their various activities. Aren’t we all?? Even though I complain about it and I’m the first person to do a little rain dance in hopes that something gets canceled, I can’t deny all the good that youth sports have brought into my kids’ lives. 

There’s been a recent surge in various online communities about how we should let kids have unstructured play and how as parents we should stop filling our kids’ schedules. And though I agree that too much pressure can be put on kids at a young age to excel leading to burnout, and that unstructured play is a critical part of childhood development, I have yet to find any harm in letting my young kids play rec ball. 

When I look back on my childhood, some of my favorite memories come from playing sports. 

I want that for my kids. I want them to look back on their childhood and recall the joy of winning a game where they were the underdog. I want them to look back on rainy games and remember how much fun they had. I want them at age 25 to reach out to their friend they played soccer with in elementary school because they formed a friendship that has lasted years. I want them to experience the fulfillment that comes from working hard toward a goal. 

I realize I can’t make them want to play or enjoy sports, but I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t stand in the way of allowing them to play either. The last thing I wanted to do this spring was figure out how to have two kids in two different leagues at practice and games since both kids wanted to play. There’s only one of me and I knew it would be difficult. I knew going in that sometimes someone might have to miss something simply because I can’t clone myself. But you know what? It’s all worked out so far. I’m tired, but we’re making it! 

The growth I’ve seen in my kids since playing sports is undeniable.

Any organized activity for kids allows growth opportunities. Sports have provided my kids with cornerstones of childhood development, including building social skills and teaching them important life lessons. They’re learning about the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship, how to navigate challenges, how to respect proper authority, and the importance of showing up when you say you will. 

I’ll be honest. I could not care less if my kid is the best one out there, but I do care if they’re the kid helping up someone who falls, giving out high fives when something good happens, and acting right when they lose. I can read them all the books and try to explain these things to them, but youth sports have allowed them to experience these things firsthand. 

The older your kids are, the more things change. My kids are still very young, so the situation is different for my family than it is for a family with teenagers. There are weeks we miss because someone needs to rest or maybe we go out of town to spend time as a family. And you know what? That’s ok. Youth sports don’t have to rule your life if you don’t let them and I think it is essential to approach them with a balanced perspective that suits your family situation.  

I fully believe that when you approach youth sports with the perspective that we’re here to have fun and learn something along the way, you’re nurturing future leaders. 


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