I must preface this article by first saying that I am an avid fan of all sports. I could play most of them all day, if given the chance, and I am 100% behind students and kids playing sports for fun and to win. Sports (especially team sports) teach lessons that effect people for the better. I played football at a sports-crazy school (Jenks for my fellow Oklahomans) and also played basketball and track. I love baseball, softball, golf, volleyball, and so much more.
With this being said, my views on sports has changed drastically. Rather, my view on the application and necessity of sports has changed.
I'm a Student Pastor now, and I can see the effects that sports have on my students.
And it's heartbreaking.
EVERYTHING revolves around sports. Everything.
I'm completely for giving your hardest and sacrificing to win. I'm not arguing against this. And I'm not for quitting a sport either, if you are already invested. Children need to be taught that we don't quit, even when everything else gets tough.
What is difficult to watch is how a student's self-worth is based on their performance and wins. What is difficult to watch is how student's have virtually NO time to just be a kid anymore with all their time being used for practices, games, and different sports-related events. What is difficult to watch it students who want to quit or try something else or take a break and their parents are telling them no and that they have to play that certain sport.
I'm telling the truth. I've talked with and counseled many students who now hate their parents because they are making them play a sport they don't want to. I have had students in my office who say they can't quit because their parents won't love them anymore.
Again, I must say: There is nothing wrong with pushing your kid in a sport, or whatever else their passion is. I will gladly do that with my children. My dad always pushed me and it meant the world. But there is a difference between pushing and driving hard for excellence, and communicating (literally or ignorantly) that if you aren't good enough at this sport then you aren't good enough for me.
There is a line that I feel like we have crossed as a nation. Little gymnasts practice 6 times a week. Baseball has spring, summer, fall, and pool leagues. High schoolers are on diets and have virtually no summer.
But we proudly stand back and say to ourselves "this is what it takes to be a champion."
I guess my question is, is it worth it? A dusty trophy and ring (if you win) vs. a childhood that, in memory, only hears whistles instead of summer-time crickets and ice cream trucks.