Q: My 5th grader just found out he didn’t make the two baseball teams in our town. He’s very frustrated. He is certainly not an elite athlete but he can play. My husband and I feel like if he doesn’t specialize by age 10 he has to give up a sport that he likes playing and is pretty good at. I find that so hard to believe. He is being penalized in all sports because he likes a lot of different things.
You’re up against the realities of youth sports in competitive towns. The movement nationally is exactly what you’re experiencing. By 5th grade/6th grade, the few classic “team sports” we offer children (baseball, football, hockey, soccer, basketball) move from fun, physical, and social outlets of play into serious, highly selective performance sports. That’s the reality, although many don’t like when it’s their kid getting sidelined. It hurts. It feels unfair. Don’t forget, the sports are like this because that’s they way we are and how we tend to push ourselves. Youth team sports are a reflection of who we are as adults.
There’s a valuable lesson sitting right in front of us waiting to be exploited. Consider this:
We don’t always do what others do. We’re unique and individual. We have talents that haven’t even been hatched yet, just waiting for us to explore… provided we have the courage and patience to try. The world is much bigger than five team sports. Athletics and physical outlets and social interests are only as limited as our imagination. Time to pick up and investigate new things. Think out of the box. Explore what’s around you. Find other kids in other towns to meet up with and see what they’re doing. Talk to other parents. Set up something brand new for kids to do in your town and school.
This problem with growing competitive team sports is happening to all kids, particularly as they enter 5th and 6th grade. You’re not alone. It’s a shake up and you need to positively name this as opportunity – not as unfairness. You have to lead. Show your kids what we do when we’re faced with an obstacle. We figure out best next steps, not worry or focus on the loss.
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