Letters: Eagle Co. youth sports too demanding
Vail CO, Colorado
I’ve been debating this letter for a while and hesitated because I am a huge believer and supporter of our youth sports programs and don’t want this letter misconstrued. And I think a lot of things are right with our youth sports programs. So before I start I want to say this is not meant as criticism towards any of us who administer, run, set up or help with our youth sports programs in the valley. Everyone is terrific and so very under-appreciated. I sponsor and coach myself as much as possible.
But I just got home from my daughters’ hockey practice and it is 9:30 p.m. I’m tired and hungry and I think our fervor needs re-assessment. When I was a kid, all and I mean all practices were centered around school: football, basketball, track and baseball were immediately after school and golf, swimming were before school. Now I hear parents in Denver get up at 4 a.m. for ice time. Puleez! I have always said when I stand before the pearly gates I want my attributes as a parent to be top criteria for admission and I fathom I am a good father. But I am not getting up at 4 a.m. so my kids can play sports.
Good parenting also means being able to provide for your family and I’ve got a job that I need to be awake for. And I’m a little tired of
practices ending at 9 p.m. on a school night or driving back to Eagle from Vail at the same time. I also get a little unsympathetic when a parent tells me they just got done with Buddy Werner Skiing, have a hockey game and then a basketball clinic later that night for little Jason. Let J do one activity and play stick-ball outside like we did as kids. I realize times are different and both parents often work and many are single parents so schedules are different than they were when we grew up. Still I feel this pandering towards incessant and constant “activities” for our children is out of
control. When was the last time your kids played a game of tag or hide and seek or Scrabble on a snow day?
I love and applaud the Western Eagle County Metro Recreation District for having in-house leagues for all sports; criticize me if you must, but spending the day with 6-year-old mini-mites in Steamboat is not my idea of fun for me or my two other kids. And If my only choice is 9:30 p.m. for a certain sport I vote no; we’ll find another sport. If more parents refused unreasonable practice times I wonder what would happen. And yes, I know, no one is holding a gun to my head forcing me to a 9 p.m. practice.
But let’s take a little reality check; elementary school children who are good athletes will still be excellent athletes in high school and beyond without having to practice five times a week or in wee hours. A Sports Illustrated expose on youth sports said the same thing and went on to say “having fun” was all the kids cared about; kids under 12 all know who the superstars are on their teams and could care less. I spent hours shooting hoops in my driveway as a kid (not that it did me any good). If you really want your kid to excel do as one coach told me he does, “I make my son shoot 500 goals and do 500 stick handles every day after school in our driveway. Then he can go play tag like a normal kid.”
I’ll bet I will now have to sit in the visitors bleachers, but I’ll bet I’m not the only one who feels this way.