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When did we stop letting kids suck at sports? My 43-year-old self is a testament to sucking at sports. I have a long track record of being the slowest kid, the one who tried to hide in the locker room during gymnastics in junior high, and the one who consistently played right field while praying that the ball would never come my way.
Today, I took my son to his first rec league basketball clinic. We signed him up for sports (Yeah, us. This was big!). He is 10 and hasn’t yet been on a sports team. He is in this phase where he wants to try new things. It’s a window that I am trying to get as much mileage out of as possible.
And on the same day, I took my son to his last session of rec league basketball. We got there and one of the first things the kids did was run up and down the court. First, they dribbled with the right hand, then the left. Then ran relay races. Then played a scrimmage.
The tears started in the car on the drive home.
Um, where was the skills clinic? Was I naive to think that they might teach the kids how to play before they started a scrimmage?
I am all about taking opportunities to teach kids resilience. I recently watched Wonder, a movie about a boy who struggles in his new school, and wondered, would I be the mom who helped support her son to stay at the school with all the perils of middle school or would I be the mom who got him the hell outta there?
While I totally think she made the right call in keeping her at his school, I also feel like I made the right decision to cut my son loose and bail from rec league basketball.
And here is where my rant is going to start. I have regular middle-class friends who hire private coaches so that their kids can do sports. One friend is a single mom who hired a baseball coach for her son. Not so that he could be the star of the team—she hired the coach so he could compete at the most basic level.
Another friend hired private basketball coaching for her kids. Again, not so they could win the race, more like so they could keep their little heads above water.
At the beginning of the school year, we got a flyer for a “soccer tryout evaluation.” What the what? Auditions? I just looked at another basketball league, and they also use the language of “first evaluation.”
So again, I ask, when did we stop letting kids suck at sports? When did it become standard to hire private coaches, so kids could compete at the most basic level? What ever happened to teaching and letting kids be kids? Learning through play? And when did we create a world where 10-year-olds are too damn old to get started in sports?
Right now, I am, as they say, “SMDH” and wishing that it was just simpler and easier to navigate this world of youth sports.