I, for one, LOVE this break from youth sports. I do not miss carpooling, washing uniforms, or trying to find matching socks. I DO miss watching them play. I miss cheering them on with the other parents. I don’t miss standing in the rain, but I do miss the pre-game pump-it-up play list. I’d like to see their faces light up when they are pleased with their play, but I don’t miss the salty ‘tudes that accompany a loss or missed opportunity.
It also feels like I am alone when I say, out loud, to my friends, that I don’t miss youth sports. I have yet to hear someone reply “me neither.” It feels like somehow, by voicing this I, or my child, is not as tough or not as passionate. I struggle to sustain passion for anything year round; I’m not sure why we think kids should be able to.
What I love the most is the break that their little bodies are getting from almost year-round athletics. I love that right now we can all avoid the pressure to say “Yes” to extended seasons and extra practices for fear our kids will lose their edge. My hope is that the reprieve will help stave off burnout.
My kids’ teams have weekly online meetings, which has been nice since they are really missing their teammates and coaches. All of their coaches have sent out weekly training schedules and I, for one, am leaving the solo training in the hands of my children. If they want to participate, fine. If not, that’s great also. Their passion has to come from within. I have enough trouble trying to motivate them for online school tasks. Extra-curriculars are up to them.
Like many parents, we got sucked into the pressure to put our kids in sports early. Too early? I’m not sure… but probably. I think most of us are familiar with burnout and the increase in overuse injuries endemic in youth sports today. It’s hard to watch my middle schoolers’ interest in a favorite sport wax and wane. I want them to be able to quit if they want to, but I don’t want them to be short-sighted in their decision-making process. Add this to the list of things I wish there was a parenting manual for.
I’ve heard rumblings that some of their sports will truly be year round next year to make up for the lost time and I’m choosing to ignore that for now. Guidelines and stay-at-home orders continue to evolve, so I know it’s mostly speculation and a hope for return to some kind of normalcy, both emotionally and financially. For now, I will just enjoy the disorganized play and goofing off.