Finally. I have been waiting for this article from someone in “big” sports media to make this case. I played ball as a young kid in the 70s and 80s. Of course after highschool youth sports was something I never thought about. Now that I have sons of my own I am back into the arena of youth sports.
My first introduction to “select” baseball was from a vendor at a local farmer’s market. He asked how old my boys were and we got on the subject of them playing baseball. His son was, at the time, about 11 or 12. He asked if I was going to enter my kids into “select” baseball. Curious as to what that was I asked him some questions. I walked away from that conversation with a different perspective on youth sports but more disgust on how our society has yet again trampled on the joy of being a kid.
After talking with the vendor at the farmer’s market I began to notice more parents talking about “select” sports. Its not just baseball. Volleyball is another sport that is popular in the “select” systems. When I coached my son’s coach pitch little league team I had a father complaining constantly. He was driving all over the state for his daughter so she could play volleyball. He said that he racked up 6,000 miles in a month driving from event to event. Meanwhile, his son missed baseball games and he became a secondary concern for the family.
I have seen the effects of “select” sports from the school point of view as well. My wife is an elementary school teacher. She has students that are involved in programs and their school life is greatly effected. The sad thing is the parents. Either they do not care or choose to ignore the performance of their children in school. They often demand from teachers special privileges for their kids on assignments not given to other children.
I see the ego and dreams of parents when they talk about their children in “select” sports. They are either reliving their past glories, trying to wipe away their failures, or believe that their kids need these programs to make it to the big leagues. Whatever the reason, they are stealing the youth from their children. The demands to preform on these kids are very high. What happened to going to the local ball field, playing a fun game, then going home to do other things?
This isn’t limited to team sports either. I know a parent that forced his son to run a few miles with him every morning. The boy was a “champion” runner. He placed first in most of the local running events for his age group and often placed high in adult groups as well. His father started running him several years ago. He is 11 now and is finished with running. He wont run with his dad anymore and has not run an event all year. So the father has started the same process with his younger son. Its baffling.
I found the article below which prompted me to write about this phenomenon. I think its a serious issue of our time. Families are being pulled apart from all directions and our kids are prime targets.
The days of simply playing ball with your friends is over. It’s a different world out there for the preteen athlete, with “Elite” and “Select” commonly turning up in the names of our youth sports teams and leagues. We’re having tryouts for 10-and-under traveling baseball teams, and we’ve got 10-and-under basketball teams traveling the country playing against other fourth-graders at God knows what cost to the parents’ bank accounts and the kids’ psyches. All in the name of what? Trophies? Exposure? A leg up on a college scholarship? The egos of the parents?