Your Child is NOT Going to Play in the Pros

Readers hbkhfeytne
— How I love this piece from DGIwire by Louis M. Profeta, an emergency physician practicing in Indianapolis and author of  The Patient in Room Nine Says He’s God. Once we accept the good doctor’s words, we can let kids spend at least some time playing on their own again, because Jerry Maguire (most likely) isn’t calling. – L 

Your Kid and My Kid Are Not Playing in the Pros

by Dr. Louis Profet

I don’t care if your eight year old can throw a baseball through six inches of plywood. He is not going to the pros. I don’t care if your twelve-year-old scored seven touchdowns last week in Pop Warner. He is not going to the pros. I don’t care if your sixteen -year-old made first team all-state in basketball. He is not playing in the pros…. There are far too many variables working against your child. Injury, burnout, others who are better – these things are just a fraction of the barriers preventing your child from becoming “the one.”

So…why are we spending our entire weekends schlepping from county to county, town to town, state to state to play in some bullshit regional, junior, mid-west, southeast, invitational, elite, prep, all- state, conference, blah, blah, blah tourney? We decorate our cars with washable paint, streamers, numbers and names. We roll in little carpool caravans trekking down the interstate honking and waiving at each other like Rev. Jim Jones followers in a Kool-Aide line. Greyhounds, Hawks, Panthers, Eagles, Bobcats, Screaming Devils, Scorching Gonads or whatever other mascot adorns their jerseys….. But why do we do this?….

It’s because, just like everyone else, we’re afraid.

We are afraid that Emma will make the cheerleading squad instead of Suzy and that Mitch will start at first base instead of my Dillon. But it doesn’t stop there. You see, if Mitch starts instead of Dillon then Dillon will feel like a failure, and if Dillon feels like a failure then he will sulk and cower in his room, and he will lose his friends because all his friends are on the baseball team, too, and if he loses his friends then he will start dressing in Goth duds, pierce his testicles, start using drugs and begin listening to headbanging music with his door locked. Then, of course, it’s just a matter of time until he’s surfing the net for neo-Nazi memorabilia, visiting gun shows and then opening fire in the school cafeteria. That is why so many fathers who bring their injured sons to the ER are so afraid that they won’t be able to practice this week, or that he may miss the game this weekend. Miss a game, you become a mass murderer – it’s that simple.

Read the whole wild ride here.

He didn't make the team and it was all downhill...

He didn’t make the team and it was all downhill…

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175 Responses to Your Child is NOT Going to Play in the Pros

  1. J- April 9, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    My theory on parents like this – and the same goes for parents who drive their kid to get into all 8 Ivy Leagues is:

    A) The parents feel like failures. They force their kid to do be super successful so they can “do it all over again” by living vicariously through their kid.


    B) The parents have a narcissistic streak and need the kid to excel because they see their kid’s success as their success. They worry more about how their kid’s actions reflect on them they do about how the kid feels.

  2. MichaelF April 9, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    I would like to note, for accuracy, that Jim Jones’ followers used Flavor-Aid not Kool-Aid as the urban myth would have us believe.

    Other than that, you’ll never stop parents with their Munchausian (sp?) Efforts on making sure their kids are the ones that excel at whatever sport they never realized their dreams at. It’s just a vicious cycle that runs kids down until they get injured enough that suddenly education is the important one. I’ve seen plenty of Pop Warner and Little League stars who excel one year then crash the next, and many who do but just want to have fun. It takes all types.

  3. Melanie Jones April 9, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    Some kids I went to high school with went to college on sportssupports scholarships. Softball, baseball, football, tennis. These sorts took many of the children to the local junior college, and some to state schools, and a lucky few to their first experiences away from home.

  4. pentamom April 9, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    Good point, Melanie. I have a relative who got a full ride to a DII school on her running. Given her horrible family circumstances, this was a HUGE lift up for her, and she’s graduated and on her way to grad school for PT.

    I think this article, while making valid points, is a bit too generalizing. Yes, there are parents out there who throw themselves into their kids’ activities for the reasons given. There are also those who do it because they enjoy it, because they believe the experience of competition at whatever level the kid achieves is valuable in itself and they want to support it, and a lot of other reasons.

    That said, the hockey culture around here is rather crazy. Vast amounts of money spent even at the lowest levels for equipment and ice time, and then if your kid shows potential and makes a travel team, vast amounts of time, energy, and money spent supporting that.

  5. E April 9, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    That’s a pretty snarky blog post with some good points. There are extremes in every walk of life. Over involved, absentee, whatever.

    We were one of the families who had kids who wanted to play sports at a higher level than recreation. Both had college opportunities to play (only 1 did). The other had options but opted to end his playing career and attend a different college. Both had wonderful High School sports experiences that, sadly, would not have been available had they not played “travel” sports.

    Perhaps our kids aren’t going to be professional athletes, but they may want to make their HS teams and have an opportunity to play beyond HS. My kids have lots of friends that did exactly that.

    Does this ER Doc have a similar column about his exposure to kids that have health issues because of alcohol or drug use?

  6. SOA April 9, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    OMG AMEN! People like my next door neighbor eat, breathe and sleep sports. They are never home because he has his kid in every sport and they are always doing that. Nevermind that their other kids including a little girl have to get drug along for all of this too for the oldest son. I can’t wait till one of his kids decide they don’t like sports. The man will probably kill himself.

    It is so bad the eldest son cannot carry on a 5 minute conversation without bringing up sports. Its sad. Even when I told him we don’t like sports or know anything about it, he just kept on talking about it. Because that is all the child is exposed to in that household. Forget being a well rounded person.

    I have no desire to make any activity my entire life. We almost got into competitive dance for my son this year but I am glad we did not. It would have been our whole life and tons of money and to the neglect of my other son. I can’t do it. It is one thing to do it when they are older and you know they want to do it and can be dropped off at practice and games and drive themselves. But I don’t want to sit there for hours every day. No thank you. Because at the end of the day, very small chance it would come of anything. Most kids are not good enough to dance/sing/act/play sports/ professionally.

  7. Nicole April 9, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    He has a few good points about the psycho parents, but he seems completely oblivious to another category of sports parent: the parent who doesn’t care if his/her child is the star, but wants to help his/her child to experience teamwork, develop grit, and live an active lifestyle.

    My daughter and I were deeply entrenched in gymnastics until a couple of years ago because I was a coach and she was along for the ride. We both got tired of it and left the sport behind. She’s very talented, but not Olympic caliber and I’m fine with that. Now she’s exploring other team sports with her school because it helps her find physical outlets that are healthy. I go to games to support all the kids’ efforts and I stress having fun, teamwork, and effort, even when I don’t understand the sport. I don’t even know if she’s any good. That said, I have worked with the crazy parents who pushed their disinterested kids forward in sports and I encouraged those kids to tell their parents it was time to quit because they (the kids) were burned out.

    For me, I don’t encourage sports out of fear that my daughter will end up a murderer. I love activity of any kind. Being on a team and coaching teams was intensely rewarding to me because it taught me a lot about people while helping me stay active. That is what youth sports started as, and there are still people out there who support that idea. I get ticked at the parents who yell at the kids at game because they’re only kids who are learning what it is to be human. I think those parents are living their dreams through their kids, and that’s very sad for the kids. There are different motivations for encouraging youth sports, and I do think that too many families sacrifice their family time for sports specialization. But I also think it’s wrong to lump all athletic families into the same category.

  8. E April 9, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    @SOA — that seems a little harsh. A kid wants to talk about what they are passionate about — how amazing.

    My kids wanted to talk about sports too. They loved sports. We had season tickets to a local sports team because it was something we could all attend and enjoy. But we also brought our kids to the symphony and theater and the library and camping and lots of other things. But I’m guessing that they (and their friends) talked a lot about sports as compared to any of those other things.

    We had neighbor twins that were obsessed with military aircraft. They come over while we were doing yardwork and show us their latest toy aircraft, they’d educate us on the attributes of harrier jets. So what?

  9. E April 9, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    @Nicole, great points. I noticed in the Drs author bio, that he lists being a consultant to USA Gymnastics. That’s one tough sport for young bodies (especially at the nationally competitive level), so it’s a little harder to take his indictment of sports being played at a high level.

  10. Krolik April 9, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    He is funny and makes some good points, but I don’t like the tone of the last paragraph. No parenting style is a guarantee that your children will remember your birthday, let alone call you 4 times a week, and long car drives with your kids can be a great time for bonding.

    My daughter recently got involved in stage crew. It meets right at her school and does not require hours of chauffeuring, or expensive equipment, but if it did, I would gladly do it. Not because I am scared that if she did not have an activity taking up all of her time she would get into drugs, but because I am just so damn happy to see her doing something other than playing video games all day and bickering with me about how it is just too cold and wet and lonely to go outside.

  11. BL April 9, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    What saddens me is that kids don’t really play sports anymore. They work sports. They don’t seem to participate outside of a structured context, with adult coaches and uniforms and an official schedule.

    When I was in high school, I didn’t play varsity basketball. I wasn’t good enough, and wasn’t truly interested. But I played pickup games a lot – sometimes with varsity players among my teammates and opponents. Overall, there were a lot more pickup players than varsity players.

    I drive past public basketball courts all the time and wonder why they’re even there – they’re never in use. When I used them, we had chain-link “nets” because nylon nets would wear out too fast from all the use. Now the public courts have nylon nets that sit there in pristine condition, season after season.

    Did I say kids? What about adults? I don’t suppose poker is really a sport (though it’s on ESPN) but I know some poker enthusiasts where I work. They either go to casinos (the nearest is over an hour’s drive away) to play, or wait for some local organization to organize a tournament. What about playing a weekly game in someone’s house or apartment? “Oh, people don’t do that anymore.”

  12. E April 9, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    @BL, we pass a public Bball court every week when we bring our dog to the dog park. It’s always occupied. I also know someone who is part of a monthly poker group. YMMV.

    I’ll agree that kids don’t self-organize games like when I was young, but part of that is because kids go to various schools (public, private, magnet, charter) even if they live on the same street, so the transportation and schedules varies, and many of them attend after school programs because their parents work.

  13. Michelle April 9, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Meh. I don’t think parents should push their kids to the point where the sport is no longer enjoyable, but I do think that sports are a valuable pursuit, worth as much effort as you put into it. First, because it’s fun. Every kid I know who is involved in athletics really enjoys it. Secondly, the mere participation has excellent benefits, including exercise and learning to work as a team. But also, even if they never go pro, there are scholarships and other sports-related career opportunities.

    A football scholarship took my grandfather from a small West Texas farm to the University of Houston and a career as one of Houston’s most beloved high school football coaches. Football was a huge part of his life, and a conduit through which he had a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of young men and women.

    Personally, I’m not very sporty myself. We homeschool, and I don’t think I’ve done a great job of providing opportunities for my kids to get involved in team sports. It’s one area I would really like to improve.

  14. BL April 9, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    “we pass a public Bball court every week when we bring our dog to the dog park. It’s always occupied. I also know someone who is part of a monthly poker group.”

    Well, good, if someone’s actually doing that. Though I note that there are organized leagues that play on outdoor courts. I thought of that after my previous post – I guess there’s one reason why my local courts haven’t been turned into parking lots.

  15. lollipoplover April 9, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    I’ve always told my children that I’d rather they be really good at many things than great at one. Youth sports is BIG business! Almost any activity has it’s extremists and the parents to go along with it. It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of tournament competitions and elite camps. I find it easier to just say no. We stick with community-based seasonal sports. We also coach and remind kids sports are for fun. Kids bodies aren’t designed to do just one activity repeatedly. Some of the best athletes (Jim Thorpe comes to mind) had a variety of pursuits. Parents tend to take the fun out of sports for kids.

    But there is a class of parents who have children in *elite* sports and see their child’s athletic pursuits as an investment. Has anyone priced a baseball bat lately?? One baseball bat could probably feed a third world country for a day. I cringe at the sight of a dad trying to talk to young Damian who is flipping out because he struck out with his brand new $400 bat and demands a new one. He then flicks off his special batting gloves into the dirt and tosses the special helmet there as well. Dad says he will look into a new bat.
    I’ve seen this and it isn’t pretty.

    I’ve also been asked to attend fundraisers for these elite teams so they can go to the fantasy camp in Cooperstown, NY. In fantasy camp, they are treated like Major Leaguers and given gifts and special VIP treatment. These kids do believe they will professional sports players. Honestly, with the amount of money parents spend on team dues/competitions/travel/equiment for sports they would have saved up enought to send several children to college.
    I tell them no, my money will go to needy children, not ballers.

    I went to Sport Authority to get my daughter a bigger softball glove. The baseball/softball section was overwhelming with choices. The nice clerk was trying to help me but was frustrated because the gloves were mixed up and put back in the wrong place. I assumed it was kids coming in and trying them on but the clerk said it’s the parents! He said the dads are the worst. They love to the bat section the best.

  16. BL April 9, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    “One baseball bat could probably feed a third world country for a day.”

    Interesting. I’ve heard that some youth leagues are going back to wooden bats because the metal ones are too expensive. Originally, it was supposed to be the other way around – at least when durability was taken into account (the wooden bats break too often).

    Has the cost swung (pun intended!) the other way?

  17. Donna April 9, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Some kids actually LIKE sports. I can see complaining if all the children he sees are miserable in their sports and their parents keep pushing them, but that doesn’t seem to be the complaint.

    If my daughter WANTS to be on a travel sports team, I’m happy to have her participate. I don’t expect her to be a pro or even get a college scholarship (although either would be fine if that is what she wants). I just want her to do what she enjoys.

  18. SOA April 9, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Even my son with autism can talk about more than one topic. So no, I don’t think I was being harsh on that child. He is a sweet kid and we enjoy him but the poor thing cannot talk about anything besides sports sports sports and more sports. Did I mention sports?

  19. lollipoplover April 9, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    How it makes you miss the days of stickball and halfball.

    The lure of the composite bat is they can really smash the ball. But why every kid has his OWN bat and there’s not just a few brought by the coach is beyond me. My daughters will borrow bats for softball from the coach. My son has a secondhand bat that a friend outgrew. We play spring baseball and I’m not *investing* in something that will likely be left out in the rain. They will play wiffleball at the beach and a baseball-hybrid game at our local pool with a tennis racquet and a tennis ball (that they borrow from the pool). My son currently holds the record for most HR hits to the roof of the pool house. So proud.
    Sometimes the best games are with the cheapest equipment.

  20. Havva April 9, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    This editing comes off as much harsher than the original article. The parents he was talking about were “the supportive parent that drives all over hell’s half acre to allow our child to pursue OUR dream”

    With examples like: “If I tell you that mononucleosis has caused the spleen to swell and that participation in a contact sport could cause a life threatening rupture and bleeding during the course of the illness and you then ask me, “If we just get some extra padding around the spleen, would it be OK to play?” …”

    He is talking about parents who are “go from being supportive to being subtly abusive”

    I have decidedly seen the abusive sports parent. My sister was hugely competitive (the drive was all hers). I will never forget that one of the few people in our region who could best her showed up at nationals one year in a back brace, she had a spine injury. But she took the back brace off and went out and did back layovers and so forth. She didn’t seem enthusiastic, and we were worried about her but didn’t know what to do. A few years latter she figured out what to do. She went to court with those videos from nationals, and got emancipated from her parents. Told the court her mom had forced her to go out there and compete time and again through injuries. The brace at nationals was particularly damming because in that case her mom’s demands put her at risk of severe spinal cord injury. Once freed from her mom, she quit the sport.

    We can all recognize that mom as abusive. But what about the lesser forms, the ones who are sucking the joy out of the sport with their obsession. Or the parent so obsessed with their child’s desire to play, that they don’t know when to be the control rod and tell the kid, not right now, you need to heal; not so much now, your grades are slipping; not so much, your sibling(s) need attention too.

  21. Jenny April 9, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    I can’t cheer for this one. The author makes most parents with kids in sports into paranoid helicopter parents. No, my kids will definitely not make the pros, have only a teeny tiny chance of a scholarship, and may not even make the school teams. But it’s not out of fear that I have my participate. I was one of those freak teenagers that did not play sports, went goth, and listened to weird music, so I’m pretty cool with kids being something other than conventional or jocks. I turned out pretty okay without sports and so did my freak friends.

    But when most of the neighborhoods aren’t around to play because they’re at practice and kids are craving peer interaction outside of school, sports are not always a bad substitute for free range activity. If kept in perspective and with the child’s wishes at heart, it can be a rewarding experience. They learn the cycle of failures and successes as a normal and valuable part of the human experience, how hard work can pay off, good sportsmanship as a way to get along in society, interacting with the community, and working cooperatively with a team. Oh and then there’s the exercise! They can certainly get these benefits improvising a kick ball game in the park and the like, but those have, as we all know, become a rarity in our neighborhoods as kids are kept indoors out of fear.

    That being said, there are certainly drawbacks to organized youth sports, the most frustrating being the adults on the boards, coaches, and parents, who let their own personal interests or those of their own children make a mess of things. The hyper-competitiveness becomes ridiculous and it seems neither kids, nor parents, nor the organizations themselves are immune to the frenzy. There is hardly a sport out there where recreational level sports opportunities, simply for fun and exercise isn’t, over the age of around 10, completely overshadowed or even shut out by competitive clubs promising to groom these kids into star athletes. Parents move their budding athletes en masse from the community teams to the competitive and expensive clubs and pretty soon the rec associations are left high and dry. Ugh! Pretty soon after the age of 8-10 there are little no participation options for rookies or not-so-athletic. These are kids that end up in front of the screen with no one to play with, and to me THAT is the real shame about youth sports.

  22. CARMEL April 9, 2014 at 10:25 am #


  23. The Curmudgeon April 9, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    The good doctor is right on one thing: Injuries will probably prevent most kids, even talented ones, from ever being pro athletes. The people who make it to the pros have a special combination of talent, determination and durability that most kids don’t.

    Lenore, two of my three boys played travel baseball. We didn’t know it existed before my oldest boy tried out for his high school team. He made the team, but he was insistent that his brother find a travel squad. My oldest son played through high school. His younger brothers pitched in college (the youngest is still in school). They both played Division III ball. It was not the big time. My middle son didn’t get any interest from the pros (though he was the ace of his staff, and a lefty, his back gave out in the course of his senior season and he was ready to retire). My youngest boy probably will never see a pro contract at any level either, but he wants to teach and coach. His experience will help him get a job. My middle son got a job from baseball, too — as an accountant — because one of the players on his college team had a father who worked for an accounting firm and got both my son and his into jobs there. My son would never have had this connection without sports.

    Along the way we’ve seen one kid from our park league make the majors (well, sort of, he’s a Cub) — and he left the house league early for travel ball. My middle son played with a kid who got drafted by the Nationals but never made it out of A ball because of, you guessed it, injury. My son also struck out a kid (twice) in high school who’s now the starting second baseman for the Cleveland Indians.

    You know what? We didn’t do it from fear; we did it because we liked baseball (still do) and because the kids wanted to do it.

    I coached in the park league when my youngest was little (before we thought it was time to find a travel squad — although there are some travel teams for toddlers out there). I was the worst coach in the history of what in my anonymous blog I call Bluejay Park. But six kids on my last team made their freshman teams at various area high schools, including my son — and baseball is a cut sport. So they didn’t burn out. They had enough fun to want to keep playing.

    The park, or house, leagues are supposed to be recreational — less competitive. But every parent thinks their kid is a surefire Hall of Famer when they start playing T-ball — and then they get discouraged quickly when the kids don’t know where to run, how to catch or how to hit. By the time the kids can actually play something resembling baseball, a lot of the parents aren’t coming out any more. It’s a shame, too, because those games can be a lot of fun to watch.

    Of course, sometimes the joy of watching is tempered by the fact that some of those in attendance are entirely crazy, and some of the coaches are the worst. I remember one game when my oldest son was playing — he still played in the park during summers during high school because he never got on a travel team — and the coach from the Colt team from the next park over was threatening to kill the umpire and anyone who tried to stop him. I live in a part of Chicago where many of my neighbors are policemen. I watched a few of them checking their service weapons in case things got really ugly. Someone eventually walked the belligerent coach back to his car (the coach was an off-duty cop, too) talking to him about his pension and how this game wasn’t worth risking it.

    I never saw anything comparable at a travel game. Ever. The parents were generally nice, often knowledgeable (OK, Youngest Son played on a team where the parents were still learning), and I think most of the kids — not just mine — did it for fun. For the love of the game.

    I think my kids are better for the experience; they deal with authority better, they are less afraid in social settings than I’ll ever be. And I include my girls in this, too, at least to an extent — even though neither played baseball for more than a few years.

  24. Amanda Matthews April 9, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Is it so wrong to just enjoy something in the moment without expecting to make a career out of it? If my kid loves baseball and is good enough to participate in tourneys then yes I’ll support them, schelp them around on weekends and decorate my car. Not because I expect them to become a pro but because that is what they want to do then. And if they don’t want to do it? Well, I find it very hard to believe that you can FORCE someone to play a sport WELL. So even if the parents are living out their failed dreams through their children, the children must want to do it. The kid wants to do sports, the parents want to see them do sports; why SHOULDN’T they spend their weekends focused on sports?

    I went to a visual and performing arts middle/high school majoring in vocal. I did not become a professional singer. But, I never expected to (and though it crossed my mind at times, at some point I realized that I wouldn’t WANT to be a professional singer)… actually, at that point (when I chose my major, at 9 years old) I think I wanted to be a cartoon voice actor. But I also enjoyed singing and music and wanted to learn more about music.

    I learned a LOT about music and became comfortable with public performance and just being in front of a crowd in general, which is very helpful in my life now. (As an introverted person with a bit of social anxiety, it made a HUGE difference in my life.)

    I minored in art, though, and now I sell my art. I still love music and singing as a hobby and am glad to have a better understanding of it. And if I were to go to the ER, I would be afraid I can’t make my art that week. And I would think that anyone that cares about me would be concerned too because they know how much that would affect me. Not because it is my job, not because THEY want me to do it but because it is what I love.

  25. E April 9, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    @SOA, I guess you are correct. Sports is the only thing that kids get fixated on and like to discuss. It renders them incapable of discussing other things. I love to talk about sports with kids (and coworkers and friends). I love to see how kids can learn all sorts of things in relation to sports both as a fan and as a participant(statistics, economics, work ethic, sportsmanship, etc).

    I get that some people don’t agree and perhaps that just means you don’t have something in common with them to chat about.

    Big deal.

  26. SOA April 9, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    E: well his Dad is not much better. He came over when we first moved in and introduced himself to my husband and immediately started talking about sports. When my husband replied he did not follow football, he looked at him crazy and walked away and its been seven years that he has not really spoken to my husband since.

    Some people and yes, I tend in my experience to find its sports people, that is ALL they can talk about 24/7 and its ridiculous.

    My son with autism (and we all know how fixated autistic kids can be on certain subjects) can talk to you about movies, tv shows, video games, different events we have attended, different trips we have taken, things that happen at school, books, parties, random stuff, etc. Yet, this kid has never been able to talk about anything other than sports. Even when I tried to get him to talk about other things kids would normally be able to talk about, he just kept directing it back to sports.

    So I guess he gets it from his Dad but that does not make a well rounded person and is that not what Free Range is about? Making well rounded people.

  27. BMS April 9, 2014 at 11:34 am #


    Full disclosure: I hate sports. I love physical activity, hiking in the woods, canoeing, biking, etc, but I personally find sports really tedious. Nevertheless, when my kids wanted to try various youth sports in their early elementary years, I let them. Their response was ‘meh’. They love boy scouts and kung fu, and are trying track for the first time this year and seem to like it so far, but they really never got into any team sports like soccer, hockey, or baseball. Fine by me.

    However, in my town and in my husband’s family, they might as well be space aliens. No one knows how to have a conversation that doesn’t involve sports. My nieces were very athletic – mostly because of their dad living vicariously – and were into field hockey, soccer, basketball, and baseball. They were on a zillion travel teams, had their pictures in the paper, etc. The problem is that is literally all the family talks about. So when we go to visit, they don’t bother asking our kids what they’re up to. It’s always, “Are you doing any sports? No? Well Nieces did…” ad nauseum.

    The really sad thing is that the cost of all these sports was a bit much for the parents’ meager income. The mom worked 2-3 jobs, the dad worked long, low paying hours, and they were forever running back and forth in between jobs to shuttle the kids to all these events. Their marriage ended in divorce, mostly because they had no time or energy to work out minor issues before they became major ones. The older niece did get a field hockey scholarship to college – and then was cut from the team freshman year. I know the girls enjoy sports, but I dunno, I think an intact family who were able to save enough money not to have to entirely rely on a sports scholarship for college would have been an even better thing.

  28. Papilio April 9, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    @MichaelF: You mean Münchhausen-by-proxy: parent pretends kid is ill (or actually poisons him/her!) to get attention and feel important. Münchhausen is when people pretend they’re ill themselves.

    Re scholarships: Yeah… I know the saying ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ and I’m sure playing a sport on a high level requires *some* braincells, but I never understood why – to put it simple – the ability to throw a ball (gross motor skills) should mean you can get into higher education (brain).

  29. SOA April 9, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    I don’t think anyone is saying sports, or competitive cheer or baton or whatever does not have its place and value. They do. I was a competitive dancer as a child. But, we are saying there needs to be balance. Its one of those cases where you know it when you see it if its gone bad and too far.

    So I think the article brings up great points about check yourself as a parent. Check your motivations. Make sure it is what your kid wants to do and enjoys doing. Do it for the right reasons. Not so your kid can be a star and be famous and make it a career. Because that is probably not going to happen. Do it because the whole family enjoys it and benefits from it and because most importantly the kid benefits and enjoys it.

    Our rule is one activity at a time. I will not do more than that. We won’t make anything like that our whole lives so that we never have time to visit family or go on family vacations or don’t have time for schoolwork or friendships or outside interests or relaxing time. Not for kids as young as mine.

  30. Amanda Matthews April 9, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    @Papilio students are usually required to have good grades in order to stay on the school team. So someone good at sports in highschool usually has the grades to get into the college and would be an asset to the college team.

  31. tdr April 9, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    My kids don’t participate in school sports so maybe I can’t relate.

    Miss a game become a mass murderer? C’mon!

    “We decorate our cars with washable paint, streamers, numbers and names. We roll in little carpool caravans trekking down the interstate honking and waiving at each other”

    Sounds like a party to me.

  32. Amanda Matthews April 9, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    “Sounds like a party to me.”

    Same here. Sports may not be my thing, but I’m not going to put down others because it’s theirs; even if sports is ALL their life is. All I ask in return is that they don’t put me down when I’m decorating my car and honking at others because there’s an anime convention in town.

  33. SOA April 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Amanda: You do realize the grades thing is not always accurate grading though right? How many times have we heard about teachers being pressured to give star players passing grades so they can play? I hear about it all the time.

    I was in gen ed classes in college with the star athletes and let’s just say I was unimpressed. My grades were way way better. They were barely getting through the class and that was probably with help and tutors.

    We all know that system can be corrupt. So I am not banking on any athlete being smart until I judge that individual myself. Because we all know teachers have been even fired or threatened to be fired if they fail star players.

    Here is some proof to back it up too.

  34. Amanda Matthews April 9, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    I don’t think grades are an accurate measure of knowledge even when used correctly.

    I’m just explaining the (messed up) logic behind scholarships for athletes.

  35. Ann in L.A. April 9, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    I know a kid who, though still only in 4th grade, has a serious shot at the NBA. His predicted adult height is somewhere in the range of 7’2″, and it’s estimated that 17% of all men in the US who are between the ages of 20 and 40 and who are over 7 feet are in the NBA. Barring injury and burn-out, I expect him to at least get a college scholarship–his brother just got a scholarship to *high school* (he passed the 6-foot mark in 8th grade.) Though the statistics for most kids make it nearly impossible to make it, this kid’s odds are more like 1 out of 6.

    For the family, the problem is making sure the boys keep as focused on school as on basketball, which so far hasn’t been a problem.

  36. anonymous this time April 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Wow. I’m going to write a tome on this later, but right now, I have to take my kid to hockey practice. JK

  37. SOA April 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    I would say being able to read is a basis of knowledge and that one article I linked to talked about how the basketball players in UNC, one could not read at all and several others had very low reading abilities. I mean there you go, if you can’t freaking read, you have no business in college duh.

  38. Michelle April 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    SOA, while it’s worth pointing out that there is corruption in the system, the idea behind sports scholarships is still that those kids are *supposed* to be good students AND good athletes. Well-rounded young men and women who would be an asset to a college environment that values both. Even if it doesn’t always work that way in practice, that *is* the intention. (I do know that when my grandfather coached in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, he did expect his players to actually earn good grades, and even behave themselves in school. No fudging.)

    As far as folks who only talk sports, I guess some people are just self-absorbed, and pass that on to their kids. I really don’t think it’s that sports inherently warps the mind and makes a person unable to converse on other topics. No, some people just never learn to be interested — or even FAKE interest — in other people’s hobbies and passions. Like I said before, I’m not into sports at all, and neither are my kids, but they could talk your ear off all day about their own geeky hobbies. They have to be reminded that not everyone wants to discuss Minecraft in deep detail for hours on end. Yes, if I didn’t teach them to be good listeners and conversationalists, I could definitely see them being the nerd equivalent of the kid who won’t shut up about sports. (Heck, sometimes *I* have to stop and remember that not everyone is obsessed with comic books like I am!)

  39. lihtox April 9, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    I was no athlete, but I did schlep to various regional and state choral festivals during high school, along with various marching band tournaments. And I did it because it was fun! I had a blast.

    That’s what disturbs me about this post: there’s no mention of the possibility that the kids might actually enjoy playing for the state championship, or the parents might just enjoy rooting for their kids.

    But yeah, it can go too far. And with sports there’s the added factor of public interest. If a choir soloist decides he isn’t having fun anymore and wants to quit, few people are going to begrudge him that choice. But if the star quarterback decides to sit out the rest of the season, it’s going to be in the local newspaper, and everybody will be talking about how this will hurt the team’s chances for a winning season or a chance at state this year, yadda yadda yadda. That makes it easy to lose sight of what’s important for the players.

  40. tdr April 9, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    I just read something (WaPO? I can’t find it now) about how much more time-consuming school sports are now than when “we were kids” (late 70’s/early 80’s).

    I do think there is a problem with the intensity in these situations (6 days / week 2hrs/ day plus meets/breakfasts/etc). They take away from family face time, which is greater concern to me than taking away from academics, frankly. And when it takes away from the fun? Sad, really.

    HOWEVER, this doctor’s premise that people do it due to fear that their kid will be overshadowed by the other kid or will become a mass-murder strikes me as off teh mark.

  41. Steve Cournoyer April 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I played ZERO schools sports, parents wouldn’t allow it, couldn’t afford it, and weren’t about to drive me ANYWHERE. I felt a bit weird about it, but once I hit 16 and had that license to drive that old truck, I spent my time in a canoe fishing, in hiking boots out on the trails, in the woods hunting, and at the gun club.My parents saying NO to school sports and “go outside and play” introduced me to the great outdoors, led to further interests in great sports( WW kayaking, ice climbing, hiking, traveling, shooting. Makes me the well rounded guy I am today

  42. anonymous mom April 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I think anything can be taken too far, and a lot of sports involvement, especially at young ages, does seem to be more about the parents than the child, but ultimately I think it’s for families to decide. Personally, we are not going to give our weekends and most of our weeknights to extracurriculars. For one, we’ve got a lot of kids, and it simply wouldn’t be feasible. If all them were involved in some activity that practiced or met or played 4-5 times a week, we simply couldn’t do it, because we can’t be in that many places at once. (Not to mention the cost.) For another, my personal position is more along the lines of childhood being a time to try out lots of things, instead of doing one thing exclusively. So, while they are young and need us to transport them, they won’t be doing activities that require significant investments of time.

    If, when they are able to get to and from practices themselves, they choose to do a high-involvement activity, that would be up to them, provided it didn’t interfere with other things we think are important (academics, family, friends, etc.). But, honestly, if some activity was going to require them to be out every evening and every weekend, I’d probably be very wary to have them involved, just because I personally am not okay with focusing on just one thing to the neglect of all else. I’m not somebody who thinks that a child or teen’s only responsibility is school: I think they also have family and community responsibilities that they need to learn to value. So a really time-consuming sport or activity doesn’t really fit with my own values as a parent, but I know other families have different ideas, and do get really into one thing and see a lot of value in that, and that’s fine.

  43. anonymous mom April 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    @SOA, re: the NC State thing. I saw the same reports, and, as somebody who teaches college, this doesn’t surprise me. I see many NON-athletes at the public university where I teach who are unable to read well. I teach English, and I routinely have students, even when I’m teaching the non-remedial courses, who write less well than my fourth-grader. When I reach the remedial writing courses, I’d say that most of the students are probably reading and writing at an upper-elementary school level.

    It’s a shame, but it’s kind of the reality of college today. We have made it this hoop that everybody needs to jump through to have any chance at a decent job, and so people who have neither the inclination or the aptitude for college work end up struggling through college courses (and often dropping out after a year or two, with nothing but debt to show for their time in school).

    So while we would expect to see better students at better schools, it just does not surprise me at all. I don’t think athletics is the problem, because, as I said, so many of my non-athlete students have very poor reading and writing skills. I do think schools can provide better academic support to struggling students, athletes or not, but many colleges today have students who are extremely poor readers and writers.

  44. SOA April 9, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    Lihtox nailed it. Just the other day a MLB player missed the starting game because his wife was in labor so he was with his wife where be BELONGED. But oh no! Everyone was up in arms about it that he should be there at the game and sports are #1 first and foremost and always and forever. Our society has lost their marbles when it comes to sports. No one blink an eye if he took off his job at the bank to go be with his wife in labor.

  45. BL April 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    @anonymous mom
    “It’s a shame, but it’s kind of the reality of college today. We have made it this hoop that everybody needs to jump through to have any chance at a decent job”

    Well, consider that many graduate from high school without knowing how to read at all. I don’t know how they got through their classes, or who let them graduate, but I’ve been involved with teaching illiterate adults to read and I know it’s true. These people aren’t merely functionally illiterate – they’re truly, completely illiterate.

  46. anonymous this time April 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    “1. When I inform you as a parent that your child has just ruptured their ACL ligament or Achilles tendon, if the next question out of your mouth is, ‘How long until he or she will be able to play?’ you have a serious problem.”

    Guilty as charged. But it was a concussion. And the reason I said it was because my son is too shy to ask, but this is what HE wants to know.

    Oh, glory, sometimes it really IS the child’s obsession.

  47. lihtox April 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    @SOA: I forgot about that story! Yes, a great example even at the pro level.

  48. E April 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    @SOA I know it doesn’t fit your narrative, but the Mets player the left to be with his wife was FAR more supported than vilified. The radio program that came down so hard on him was 2 people, one of whom publicly apologized the next day. The other is the host of the program, a SPORTS TALK program that probably got more publicity from those comments than anything else they’d ever done.

    One of my kids was a teammate of the valedictorian and salutatorian of their SR class. Another was a Morehead Scholar, another attends an Ivy League School and on and on.

    You are saying more about yourself than “kids that play sports” or “people that like sports” with your broadbrush remarks.

  49. anonymous mom April 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    @BL, that does not surprise me at all. It’s sad. I get students who graduated in the top 10% of their high school classes who cannot put together a grammatically-sound sentence. I don’t know what the root of the problem is, or what the solution is, but I know it’s a lot more complex than sports.

  50. E April 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    @SOA, I meant to include, that people are just different. Your idea of a elaborate birthday parties planned over a large amount of time sounds like TORTURE to me. I honestly can’t imagine me ever ever doing that. It holds no appeal (my kids were allowed parties at 5, 10, & 15 and were very small affairs or outings with a few friends). But if that’s what works in your family, then GO FOR IT. I’m not judging you for doing it, I’m simply observing something and thinking ‘wow, people are really different’. It’s not a character flaw to have an interest that differs from someone else.

  51. melanie April 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Most of my friends that joined the military also did so for the chance to aquire an education. I am not trying to say that a system that pays people to play makes sense rather I just totally get why a parent in the ER could flip out if their kids cant play if that was in a sense the only way out for their kid. Re: a comment below about why dont kids play for fun anymore I feel like that is a problem for my family. My dad recently asked why we never go fishing with our kids. We definately fall in the trap of mainly doing scheduled, paid for, structured activities. My daughter just got a bb gun from my parents for her birthday and had so much fun shooting it at their house like I did as a kid. Back here in the burbs she asked if she could take it out. Man I would love for her to run off in the woods shooting trees and the sky and whatever else, but don’t even know if it is legal or what neighbors would do if they saw a nine year old with a weapon (aka pink bb gun) on the trail behind all the houses. So I guess we will have to find a safe structured place for her to hone that fun skill.

  52. SOA April 9, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    E: People are different but again it is about balance. You can like sports and play sports all the live long day and not bother me. Actually I have some close friends that have kids that play sports or they are sports fans. The difference is they are not fanatics. They and their kids can carry on a conversation without it having to have anything to do with sports. They have other interests and pursuits.

    Again its a case of you know it when you see it. If you take it too freaking far its obvious. I may do elaborate birthday parties for my kids but I don’t talk about them every conversation either. I can talk to you about what book I am reading, what tv shows I watch, about a trip we recently took, about how the kids are doing at school, current events, etc. If anyone cannot find common ground with someone unless it is over ONE THING (sports), then they need more interests and a more well balanced life.

  53. E April 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    @SOA or maybe you just don’t connect with some people. I certainly don’t have to be able to hold conversations with every person who happens to cross my path or live on my street. I sometimes avoid people that I don’t connect with because I find making superficial conversations tiresome.

    But keep on judging!

  54. sassystep April 9, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    I love most of what you post but can’t support this. Some kids (and families) just love sport – and many of us encourage our kids to follow their passion. There are a lot of opportunities in competitive sports for the kids to learn who they are, be part of a team and get that exercise and fresh air that you always complain kids these days are missing. Not all kids live in close communities (like they did when I was a kid) and my stepsons baseball team has become that close community for him. Sure, parents are involved, but both my stepkids have likely had more “free range” moments during an away ball tournament running around with their friends then in and around our home in an area with other kids who aren’t allowed to come out and play.

    Not only has this been an amazing learning experience for my stepson, but it’s been great for me as a stepparent too. I have had a chance to get to know the other families and meet people in the community. In fact, at a recent fundraising event we started talking about our kids growing up and shared recent experiences with letting them be more independent. Stuff we will take home and implement ourselves.

  55. SOA April 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    E: considering I have a ton of friends, I don’t think I don’t connect with people. I mean what does Lenore talk about? Community. Well our own next door neighbor won’t speak to us because we don’t like sports? How is that for community? Not very good community there.

  56. Donna April 9, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    SOA – What you are basically saying is that you refuse to talk about the major hobby your neighbors, these neighbors are somehow obligated to find something that you do want to talk about for no reason other than they happened to move next door to you, and a refusal to do so is their failure? Much like we frequently say about our kids, you just ain’t all that and your neighbors may simply have no desire whatsoever to spend even the minimal amount of brain power needed to come up with an acceptable topic of conversation to talk to you. A sense of community does not actually mean that you have to talk to people you don’t like, and despite you supposed ton of friends, some people just aren’t going to like you.

  57. anonymous this time April 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    I hear a lot of people justifying organized sports because they provide exercise, fresh air, community, learning, etc.

    What I think is sad is that in many ways adult-organized sports have become the PRIMARY way these needs are met, rather than an option for a sub-group.

    Little League is a recent development. Mickey Mantle wasn’t in Little League. All of the “greats” that came before the 1960s had never played organized, adult-coached, shrunk-down-replica-of-the-major-leagues ball at all. It didn’t exist. Some guy got the idea and it took off. And little by little, it killed the sandlot completely, at least for all the kids who are in a family that has a pot to piss in and two nickels to rub together. In fact, unless you’re destitute, if your kid has any interest in a sport, organized leagues or school leagues are their only way to play.

    It’s packaged up and sold as “skill-building,” but kids built their sports skills just fine on their own until they’d reached late puberty or adulthood. I mean heck, “sports” as we know them today are SUCH a recent development in human history. Before 1880 there was nothing resembling it the way we expect it to be now.

    It’s become so culturally significant to watch and play sports, that most people who don’t have a hard time feeling a real sense of belonging in many situations. I grew up in a family of true nerds. My mom played tennis a bit when I was really little, but mostly she was just into running and fitness. She bicycled, too.

    My dad sat around a lot and wrote Greek symbol-laden math equations on yellow legal pads.

    My older brother was a sports wannabe in his coke-bottle-lens glasses and utter lack of hand-eye coordination. He was water-boy for the school wrestling team, and I think he served the same role for the football team as well. His real love was baseball, and he collected cards, kept stats, and played Strat-o-matic. I understood none of it.

    I had no interest at all in playing sports, although at one point in my early 20s I was on a beer-league softball team and loved it so much that I mourned the fact I’d never played softball as a kid.

    Then I had a son. Well, he’s adopted, so that explains his unearthly abundance of grace, coordination, strength, and skill. He’s “one of those kids” who can approach any piece of sports equipment and seem like he’s played for years at his first practice. He stands out. A lot. And he always has. He begged for sports equipment and uniforms as a three-year-old. It wasn’t that he saw a bunch of it on TV, and his dad and I weren’t sports nuts AT ALL.

    In fact, my parenting plan had been to AVOID organized sports entirely. Instead, I just found myself spending $11K in the last nine months on ice hockey: goalie equipment, goalie training and camps, fees for tryouts and travel teams, hotels and meals and gas and ferries and OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THE HORROR OF THIS WRETCHED EXCESS MY SON PLAYS THE LEAST CARBON-NEUTRAL SPORT THAT POSSIBLY EXISTS AND THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS THAT MONEY COULD HAVE HELPED THE WORLD.

    And he loved every. Freaking. Minute. I’m his hero for supporting him to do this. For seven years, he played soccer, because it was the only winter sport we would encourage. Finally, his lifelong dream to play hockey came true, and his team went all the way to the provincial tournament. They won, and he was in the net, doing his amazing work. He seems to be here on Earth for this. I don’t know why, but this is what he’s completely about. It’s not coming from me, or his dad. In fact his dad tried to sabotage the hockey thing by refusing to pay for it or do any of the driving. To support my son’s sense of joy and purpose, I went ahead and said I’d handle it all.

    After one season, I am totally and completely BURNT OUT. I cannot for the life of me imagine how these families who have been in the ice hockey travel team racket for all these years a.) afford this b.) have any semblance of family fun outside of ice rinks and rented busses c.) manage to have anything approaching connection as a married couple and d.) do the sibling thing… sometimes there are TWO kids in a family on DIFFERENT travelling hockey teams! WHAT THE HOLY HELL IS THAT????? And they SMILE about it!!!!!!!

    I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I remember one game where the refs didn’t show up, so all of these kids, some of whom had travelled a distance, sat around staring at the ice WHICH HAD BEEN PAID FOR and DIDN’T PLAY HOCKEY.

    I said to another mother, “This is what I hate about organized sports. I mean, if it were up to the kids, they would go out on the ice and play! They don’t care if there are refs. They don’t even care if there is a score. They just want to play. LET THE KIDS PLAY!”

    It all seemed so absolutely effed up to me. If the whole point is to provide an experience that is fun for the kids, that lets them develop their skills, including people skills, how would it be wrong to let them go out on the ice and play even if there’s no score-keeping or officials? Well, what it comes down to is this: the ADULTS want a score. The ADULTS want refs, and precision, and a RECORD of what happened. Because they’re PAYING for it. It’s where the ADULTS find meaning. You should hear them howl if the clock doesn’t get started when a player has a penalty. As if the world depended on it.

    The kids do want to play. My kid wants to play. He wants to play with the kids who are so good that they challenge him and take him to his limits. That’s what is fun for him. But when they made the provincial tournament, he was over it. It meant 8 days on the road during his spring break. He wanted to be OUTSIDE, not in an ice rink. He didn’t want to go. I probably didn’t give him the pep talk that was required, because I was so damned sick of it all as well. I didn’t go on the trip, I stayed home with my HUSBAND and my DAUGHTER so I could LIVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF HOCKEY.

    But every other kid on the team had a parent with them. They are 12 and 13. Jeebus, it doesn’t take that many adults to chaperone a bunch of boys. But these parents WANTED to go. They WANTED to spend 11 hours on a bus going to the farthest reaches of our province. So they could watch the kids play. I think this is demented, myself. Sure I want to watch. When it is convenient. Not every time, and not at great expense. If my kid is so keen to play, it better be for his own reasons, and not because I’m watching…

    Man, I hate it that it’s an option. Because if you’ve got a keener, and you’ve got the dough, it becomes a huge glaring thing if your kid doesn’t play on the top team. Everybody in my neighbourhood knows my son. He’s become a legend of the Little League park. Now he’s a hot property as a goaltender. It’s like I’m pissing on the Canadian flag if I say I don’t want to drive him to practices, pony up for training and leg pads, and sacrifice my whole family experience on the altar of an artificially-refrigerated, fluorescently-lit box in a faraway town.

    What a ridiculous world we live in, is all I can say. People have lost sight completely of the simple pleasures. I actually DO think my son could be a pro athlete, IF he doesn’t get injured. But I shake my head and wonder if there really could possibly even BE such a thing as professional sports as they are arranged now by the time he’s grown. It just all seems to be a groaning, overstuffed ferris wheel that’s tilted off its axis. Only a matter of time before it rolls off its moorings and crushes the crowd.

  58. Kimberly Herbert April 9, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    Fear is not why my niece and nephew participate in sports. They ask to play. If one asks the other is asked do you want to play X also, that child can say no or yes.

    Honestly my sis is frustrated with the babyification of the sports for nephew. He is playing a game they call baseball.
    1. They get three pitches from the coach if they can’t hit the ball
    2. They get the ball on the T
    3. Everyone bats every inning
    4. Everyone gets on base
    5. If they get out they stay on base and go all the way around to home.

    Nephew is frustrated – he bats clean up, always hits the coach pitch, usually gets a homerun, but can’t run the bases because the other boys are picking daisies. He even asked his mom “What happens with they play a game were someone has to lose” (He gets you have to lose sometimes – and we pitch real pitches to him not soft lobs.)

    I will amend something I said earlier. Niece was put in dance/movement classes early because of a fear. Dyslexia and Dysgraphia run on one side of our family. Of 5 first cousins on Dad’s side 4 of us have some combination – all female.

    Niece had some difficulty with some gross motor mile stones and crossing the midline. So she was enrolled in dance/movement classes to have fun and promote gross motor skills. Eventually she was diagnosed with dyslexia but early help means she is above grade level. She didn’t develop some of the motor skill problems that the older group of us have.

  59. SOA April 9, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    Well to get to know your neighbors you have to actually talk to them, so yeah, you can’t build a sense of community without speaking to them.

  60. SOA April 9, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    thanks anonymous for that story. It is good to hear from a parent with a kid with amazing natural talent and how they relate to that. See, a lot of those parents of the kids with less skill than him would die to be in your shoes with the kid with such natural skill and talent. Instead they shell out every penny they have and sacrifice every minute of free time they have trying to get their kid as good as yours or a leg up on your kid.

    I think your family handles it very well. You nurture his needs and talents, but still don’t make it your whole life.

  61. Donna April 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    SOA – Your neighbors attempted to talk to you. You shot down their attempt as completely uninterested. Could be that they know nothing else to talk about. Could be that they didn’t like you enough in your first brief exchange to make any more of an effort. Not sure why you assume the first rather than the latter. Again, community doesn’t mean you have to interact with people you don’t like just because you happened to move next door to each other.

  62. Stephanie April 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    My son loves to play soccer, but we do our best to keep it appropriate, as he’s only 9. Other parents definitely don’t – there was one who told her son that he was going to do a ton of pushups after his team lost a game.

    My son knows that some kids get scholarships for sports, but also that at his age he should be playing for the love of the sport. Scholarships are far in the future, if ever, and who knows what he’ll be interested in doing then. I’ve heard other parents talk about them to their kids, which is why the whole thing came up.

    We rejected swim team for our daughter because it’s too all consuming. Practice most days, competitions most weekends, year round. Too much for us, even though my daughter loves to swim. Instead she’s happy in Destination Imagination, where she’s still learning about teamwork and competition, but not in a sports context.

  63. Jenn April 9, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    My sister was an Olympian in diving. My son has decided last year to take up diving. All I could think of was the years of driving to practices and competitions, and the lack of money since any extra money went to her diving fees. It wasn’t easy for our family but when we look back, we think it was worth it to help her to achieve her goals. Do I think my son will be an Olympian? Well, I know the stats, the risk of injury, the burnout, the frustration and the poverty. Put it all together and I know it is highly unlikely that it will happen. But still I invest tens of thousands of dollars so that he can learn goal setting, perseverance, frustration, failure and success because not all kids learn these things in the classroom setting, nor playing in the neighbourhood.

    My sister went to a public high school that had a program for elite athletes. Two of her classmates lived out of town and lived with us. Both were hockey players and they had a fabulous outlook on their futures. They knew the odds were against them for making it to the NHL. They both decided to accept scholarships because regardless, an education will give them a future. One of them was injured and had to give up playing seriously. The other, did make it to the NHL, a brief stint, but a dream realized, nevertheless. Now, he’s a teacher. My sister, the Olympian, she’s a principal.

    The way I look at competitive sports (or dance) for my children is a place for them to have some fun and learn something new. Every practice and competition we ask, “Did you have fun? What did you learn today”. If they happen to succeed, good for them. Since my kids have been in competitive sports, they sleep better, which in turn, behave better. They still have tons of free time to play and hang out but not so much time that they find themselves getting into trouble out of boredom. They have found something to do that they love. Isn’t that what all parents want for their kids?

  64. Mom of a Goth girl April 9, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    WHOA!!!! Wait a minute do you know ANYTHING about Goth culture or only discriminatory urban myths? My oldest daughter is a Goth girl. She is a published author and artist(award winning I might add). She is a college student at the top Art college in the US. She belongs to and runs many mini websites on Vampire Freaks. She does not smoke drink or do drugs, has many friends etc… Most Goths are highly motivated hard working top in their artistic fields kind of people… Discrimination by main stream media is the real problem!!! My other daughter is a preppy ballerina , Girl Scout 4Her. Quit judging people you don’t know based on media stereotypes!!! Grow up and get a LIFE!!!!

  65. Mom of a Goth girl April 9, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    Oh and by the way she is JEWISH!!! Never have I heard of a Goth being a neo- nazi!!! That is ludicrous and highly offensive!!!

  66. Sam April 9, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    It’s disgusting that you compare being rejected from a school team to Columbine or implying that people in the gothic subculture are neo-nazis and rejects. Maybe why kids start shooting up schools and stabbing people in the gut is because they have parents like you.

  67. Warren April 9, 2014 at 10:04 pm #


    Those star football players that you think are below average pay for their education, and a lot of other thing at most Universities. The ticket sales, tv rights and merchandise rake in millions a year. Some schools would not be able to offer programs without the financial support of the sports teams.

    As for parents asking doctors when they can return to the active roster, when they are injured……it is not an unreasonable question. Because a lot of players when they get injured, that is the first thing they want to know, even as kids.
    Hell I have known kids to hide injuries from parents and coaches so they won’t be taken out of games. At 14 I had the swollen spleen, right at the time our team was trying to qualify for the provincial championships. Lots of tensor bandage and a thin pad, and out I went. My choice. I hid cracked ribs from football coaches. Broken fingers, pulled muscles, torn ligaments and probably a concussion or three.

    We do it because we a passionate about our sport. No different than an artist about their works, an activist about their cause, a musician about their music or whatever. Some may not be able to wrap their thick skulls around it, but their is no difference between playing hockey or any sport, and being an artist, musician, writer or whatever. They all take dedication, skills, practise and passion. Unlike most though, sports are seasonal, and we are limited by age to perform at our peaks. So something someone can do for life, like paint or play the piano, a hockey player has a limited time in which to enjoy it.

    Dolly, if you cannot understand why people want to talk sports a lot, then you are the exception. Generally people will talk about sports because it is something the population for the most part has in common, to some degree.

    Yes some parents go overboard. It is then up to the coach to control them. But if a kid is passionate about a sport, then do not hold it against them. I have seen just as many parents want to pull their kids out of games for bumps and bruises, just to be safe, as I have be over bearing parents pushing their kids.

  68. fred schueler April 9, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    back around 1958 Little League ruined baseball for me, because all the other kids we used to play with went off to sit on the bench.

  69. Kay April 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    I feel like parents who let their kids express themselves freely are better parents than the ones who slice into kids for being who they are. The “goth” culture isn’t a bunch of lost people, just a bunch of people who express them selves differently, are into different things than you, and have done no harm to you or your ego. Yea, kids get depressed and get a little dark from time to time, but parents should be scolding kids for it, they should be helping them and accepting anything they have to say with an open mind, heart, and arms.

  70. Kay April 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    In my last comment I had a typo.. It should be this.

    Yea, kids get depressed and get a little dark from time to time, but parents shouldn’t be scolding kids for it, they should be helping them and accepting anything they have to say with an open mind, heart, and arms.

  71. Warren April 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    Dolly you won’t even open your door to talk to strangers, so how did you ever find out your neighbours wanted to talk about sports?

    Your posts and attitude only describes you as an anti-social, paranoid snob. With the way you come across did you ever stop to think that your neighbours met you, found you to be a stuck up bitch, and have decided to have nothing to do with you?

  72. Mom of a Goth girl April 9, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    Well said Sam and Kay!!!

  73. hineata April 9, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    Okay, the article was a little weird. Why would Dillon turn into a mass murderer? Why would I worry that Dillon would turn into a mass murderer if he missed practice? Why would I even worry about them losing all their friends if they don’t make the team? Do kids really have all their friends in the same place? Lots of leaps of illogic, all over the place…

    Why the heck would someone name their kid Dillon? Maybe that’s the real issue here …

    Seriously, I am not into sport (though I cannot understand how you could be so rude to your neighbors over their’obsession’ with it Dolly) but I can see why some people would be, and that lots of kids would so into it that they would want to be on travel teams with it. For the period of time that my brother played provincial and national hockey, my family all had fun traveling around with him…it became family fun, but was dropped quite happily too when he dropped the sport.

    (On that note, if a teenage boy drops a sport they are exceptional at, for no apparent reason, please, please question them very closely as to why. My only big sister regret, we were all TOO laid back).

    El Sicko currently competes as a cheerleader, (and boy was i not keen on that ‘sport’ to begin with) a ridiculous situation for a kid that is about as coordinated as your average newborn elephant, but we ain’t gonna argue – we’re going to let her ride it out for as far as it goes. The practice is darn good for her health wise too.

  74. C.J. April 9, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Both my kids are competitive dancers. They choose to dance. I ask them before the start of each year if they want to audition again. I don’t push them, it is up to them what they put into dance. They practice two week nights and on Saturday’s. They only go to three regional competitions and one national finals each year. They are always dancing around the house, at school, at the grocery store, everywhere. I would never make them dance but I won’t say no if they want to. They still play outside and do other things. I have seen mother’s getting angry at their kids because they didn’t win a scholarship at competitions. It makes me sick to my stomach to see that. I see nothing wrong with kids playing competitive sports as long as it is the kid that wants to do it. Our studio is very family oriented and the dancers are very close. It is like a big family. My shy one has come out of her shell because of dance. They both love being a part of a team and love the friendships they have made from dance. Neither of them expect or want to be professional dancers. The younger one wants to be a vet. The older one wants to be a teacher but since there are no jobs for teachers around here is still thinking about it. She is eleven so she has some time, lol. They are both just enjoying the experience.

  75. Reziac April 10, 2014 at 12:17 am #

    The article sayeth:
    But it doesn’t stop there. You see, if Mitch starts instead of Dillon then Dillon will feel like a failure,…

    And ya know what this really is? A side effect of all that “self-esteem” that we’re supposed to have. Because gods know if we don’t have self-esteem, it must be because we’re failures. And you avoid failure by never having a random moment.

    Today’s new parents are the first generation who grew up in the Self-Esteem era. Is it any wonder they so fear failure in their kids??

    We used to decry such parents as overbearing when they planned their kids’ whole careers in advance, by way of turning 5 year old Susie into a runway model and 10 year old Jimmie into a Little League star, whether that was what Susie and Johnny really wanted or not (and kids will NOT protest, because a kid’s desire to please their parents inhibits such protests).

    But nowadays, they’re the norm. In another generation, everyone will have forgotten what it’s like to let kids just be kids, rather than Esteem Units to be scheduled into ‘success’.

  76. Andy April 10, 2014 at 3:30 am #

    Isnt this a bit … a lot … judgmental? If you feel about those sport activities the way article writer do, then you should definitely stop. Or help organize some common bus transfer to competition place so you do not have to go.

    However, I suspect a lot of those sport parents do not hate it the same way article writer do. Some may even like it. I suspect that he projects his own fears into other parents and try to beat them with it.

    I liked competitive sport when I was young. I had never any chance on winning or becoming pro and I would not to be the one anyway. However, training and competitions were lifestyle for me, I had friends there and still remember it as a good time.

    My kids are not there yet and I expect that common bus transport if they will want to compete. So, I can imagine parents who has even better memories then me to drive kids.

    The moral fear in the end of article is very weird to me. Those who do sport around here are definitely not the most best behaved kids ever. Bad influence can be found in sport club too.

    lt;dr: article writer should stop driving kids to competitions if he hates it that much and should stop obsess over what other parents do.

    Offtopic question: where these people outraged over minor lifestyle differences are coming from? Why is the need for total conformity in every single parenting decision so hard?

  77. SOA April 10, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Warren: We see them outside all the time when our kids are out playing. He approached my husband when my husband was doing yard work. My husband was trying to be friendly and chatty and the dude totally lost interest the minute he answered the question “What football team do you root for?” with “I actually don’t follow football”. What was he suppposed to do answer? Lie. Make up something?

    Our kids go to the same school. We have plenty to talk about. There is common ground. But the guy obviously thinks if you can’t talk about sports, you are no use. Actually like his son I hear him posting on the school PTA page and even there cannot fail to somehow work UT football into the conversation.

    Donna: How exactly was I rude to them? I was the one bringing over food to them when they have new babies multiple times and I always wave to them and let the kids play in my lawn. But the fact of the matter is, they had zero interest in being “friends” with us when he found out we don’t follow sports and pretty much never spoke to us again. So now, forget things like his son walking to school with us, nope, he is going to wait in the long car line and drop him off right at the door. That is the type of stuff that is killing free ranging right there.

  78. Warren April 10, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Yes there are those parents that push their kids against their will. There is no denying that. But like anything else, these extremists are the minority.

    Yes there are families that seem to make a sport their life. But that is only what you see, you do not see the rest of their life. Frankly, if the family wants to make hockey, baseball, football, dance or whatever their life, then more power to them. It is a great experience to have a family with such a strong bond and common ground. And to judge them negatively for that is nothing more than jealousy and or insecurity.
    Sports and competition has been a part of most cultures since the beginning. Our sports as we know them have replaced far more barbaric competitions. So before you judge the competitiveness or violence of a certain sport, try to remember that this is the modern replacement for competitions that were to the death.
    It is in the human condition to compete, to excel, to win. It is instinctual, and no matter what some think, there is nothing wrong with it, and there is nothing they can do to change or stop it.

  79. Warren April 10, 2014 at 8:29 am #


    You are a hypocrite. Your neighbours have to conceded and find something you like to talk about. But you are unwilling to do the same for them.

    None of this would matter, if you were not whining about them.

  80. E April 10, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    @SOA, some people are self centered. It doesn’t matter what their hobby is, they are just not good at give and take conversation. My husband used to say one of my roommates was just “waiting to talk”, not listening to me, but waiting to see how the conversation could be related to one of her life experiences. I was friends/acquaintances to a mom of a girl that dated my son. Whenever we made small talk at school functions (we were both involved as volunteers for a school parent group) she talked about her daughter. About her daughter’s scholarships, about her daughter’s school choices, etc. She never asked about my son and his opportunities (or even his accomplished athlete endeavors). It became a somewhat entertaining joke for us.

    Like I said, people are different. Some people connect, some people don’t. Some people are good at idle conversation and some are not. It has zero to do with what hobbies or interests they have and everything to do with their personalities.

    I have zero desire to talk to casual acquaintances about their kids’ GPAs and multitude of college choices. There are people that going around at school events surveying where kids are going to school out of complete nosiness and the opportunity to share where THEIR kid is going. But I’m not saying “parents of academics are so one-track minded and not well rounded”. I realize it’s the personality of the parent, not the interest or gift that their child has.

  81. SOA April 10, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    How do you talk about something you know zero about? I mean really? Please educate me. If I don’t know jack about a topic, I don’t talk about it because I don’t like sounding ignorant. My husband never cut him off or changed the subject. He did not even get a chance to do that. He answered the question “I don’t follow football” and the man looked at him like he was crazy and walked off and has never spoken to my husband again in 7 years! I don’t see how someone can defend behavior like that.

    His kids actually like us and we like his kids. They come over and talk to us all the time. We are not worth his time though. He loved the guy that lived in this house before him though because they would have football watching pow wows all the time. I have knocked on his door multiple times to return toys his kids left at our house or bring them food when they had a new baby or return mail that got put in our box or ask the kids to come out to play. In 7 years they have not knocked on our door once.

    Yeah that is not being neighborly or building community.

  82. E April 10, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    @SOA, so you have a rude or unsociable neighbor. That has NOTHING to do with what he does with his spare time or what his hobby is. They don’t value a relationship with you. That’s that. Maybe he’s anti-social, maybe he’s intimidated by you, maybe he’s a jerk.

    I’m glad you like the kids and they talk to you all the time, but that’s not exactly the picture you painted when you said that all the kid could talk about was sports and since you don’t follow or care about sports there was nothing to talk about.

    Not everyone is the same. Not everyone wants to talk to their neighbors. We have neighbors that never emerge from their home on foot (I suppose they get their mail, but I’ve never seen them do it). They have a couple of dogs but do not walk them. I’m not going to judge them other than to know that they are introverts with whom I have nothing in common. I suppose I could blame whatever their interests are (or the beer cans in their recycling since that’s all I really know about them) at fostering this, but that would be presumptuous.

    Not everyone WANTS the same things you (or I) want. It doesn’t mean they aren’t free range or they are dumb jocks or anything, it just means they are different than you (or me).

  83. Papilio April 10, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Like SOA, I don’t see how it’s rude to expect the other person in the conversation to, like you, try to find a topic that’s interesting to both. That can be hard, but is a very normal part of having/starting a conversation.
    If ALL I can and want to talk about are the ins and outs of quantumphysics, is it rude of you to admit you don’t know the first thing about it and try to talk about something else instead?

  84. Warren April 10, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Wow, how mixed up is that. People expecting others to make attempts to converse on topics they like.

    Obviously this guy is into sports. For all intents and purposes he has nothing in common with you or your husband. He is under no obligation to try and find common ground with you. If he has nothing in common with you, then why in the hell would he want anything to do with you? That is life.
    And don’t tell me you have the kids in common, because like me when I socialize with friends the last thing we want to do is talk about our kids. We actually enjoy the ADULT company.

    Very self centered to expect them to make time with you, when they have nothing in common with you. Why would they? Just by most of your posts, I can see why they wouldn’t.

  85. Jen (P.) April 10, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    I’m somewhat sympathetic to the author’s point. It’s hard not to think the prevalence of “elite” level kids sports today reflects a large number of parents who feel they missed their chance and are now trying to live vicariously through their kids or are otherwise pushing them in unreasonable ways. But there have always been a certain number of “those” parents. There certainly were when I was growing up way back in the 70’s and 80’s, so I’m not convinced things have really changed all that much.

    Overall, however, this essay rubs me the wrong way. The author excoriates parents whose kids are, in his opinion, over-involved in sports and argues that said parents buy into the lifestyle out of fear about how their kids’ lives will play out. Fair enough – there’s probably a grain of truth in all that snark. But then he concludes with his assurance that his way is better and his unpressured offspring will grow up to be model citizens who dote on their parents and are in every way superior to those burned out, washed up former athletes who will live out their days resenting the parents who pushed them too hard. That’s just silly and more than a little hypocritical.

    For what it’s worth, we’re about to be drug kicking and screaming into that “elite” sports world by a kid who’s obsessed with competitive cheer. With other activities, we’ve mostly stuck to rec league stuff for a variety of reasons (although our eldest did spend 3 years in a professional children’s choir that was time consuming and involved some touring, and she quit on her terms when she wanted to), but unfortunately the rec league isn’t cutting it for this one. This is not the sport either my husband or I would have chosen for her (and not the one we want to spend our weekends watching), but she is determined and has worked very hard to learn the tumbling skills she needs to participate, so we’ll give it a go and let her join a “national” team. My point is simply that this guy is painting with too broad a brush. Not everyone whose kids compete at those levels is like the parents he describes.

  86. SOA April 10, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    I agree with others that there is no guarantee his kids will visit or call him when they are grown sports or no sports.

    My husband never did any activities when he was young and he is not close with his family.

    There are a billion factors involved with whether or not your kids will call you when they are grown up. If only there was on easy thing to do to make it so, but its not that simple. But his point on sacrificing family time for activities, does make sense. You got to have a balance. Because you really cannot bond as a family watching Junior practice pitching. You all need to be sitting down together, talking, interacting at the same time.

  87. SOA April 10, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    I don’t see how you can support free range which Lenore says community is a big part of it, and then advocate next door neighbors never speaking to each other besides a wave and my husband does not even get that.

    I asked his son to walk to and from school with us, but his parent would not let him, probably because they don’t know us. Well there you go. Maybe if they tried to talk to us, they could know us and he would be allowed to walk to school. Instead they kill the earth with emissions in their huge car driving right up to the door of the school to pick up and let out every day. And this kid is in 4th grade. If all the kids walked in a herd they would not even need parents to walk with them, but the more people pull away from each other, the more the kids are not able to group up.

    So yeah, I think it relates to free range and the topic at hand.

  88. SOA April 10, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    But I have learned sports nuts defend other sports nuts to the death so keep on defending it. I don’t think it holds up though.

  89. E April 10, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    @JenP, you are spot on. Of course there are people that handle youth sports in a terrible way. One only needs to stand on the sideline of any field on any given Saturday to know that. There are also people that attend pro sports events and make asses out of themselves there too.

    Kids ‘outgrow’ things. That might mean moving on to something else, it might mean reading more challenging books, playing more difficult pieces of music, or moving up to a more competitive level of sports. Do some of them have parents without a healthy perspective? Absolutely. But there is no reason to yank a kid out of an activity that they enjoy, that is an appropriate level for their skills and interest, no matter what this ER Dr (who I remind everyone is a consultant for USA gymnastics — a sport so intense that young girls often cease to menstruate) has to say about it.

    Now it looks like his comments are framed as part of a book he wrote about his ER experiences. In that way, I’m sure he’s seen a LOT.

  90. Jen (P.) April 10, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    @SOA . . . Maybe your family “need[s] to be sitting down together, talking, interacting at the same time.” Doesn’t make it true for everyone. I know plenty of families who do their bonding on the golf course. Others spend time with their kids on batting practice or shooting baskets in the driveway. Your way would be forced and artificial for some of them.

  91. E April 10, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    @SOA – there is NOTHING to defend except that everyone’s interests are theirs, period. You have something in common with someone or you don’t. You have an ease of conversation with someone or you don’t.

    I have neighbors who are quiet, introverted, some would describe them as nerds or geeks. SO WHAT? They don’t like to socialize and they don’t. SO WHAT? I also have friends who are nerds and geeks (virtually everyone in my line of work) who I can socialize or chat with indefinitely.

    You suggesting that sports-crazed families are not good conversationalists unless they can talk about sports. Nope, you’re saying your SPECIFIC neighbor is not a good conversationalist. Just like my neighbor (the introverted “nerd” some would label them) doesn’t like to talk to us.

    People are different. Not everyone wants the same things you want, spends time doing the same thing you do, or even cares to be converse in the same manner you do. Your neighbor could be a brain surgeon and a book worm and still not want to chat with you. It doesn’t matter.

  92. Warren April 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Do you ever really listen to yourself, or read what you write?

    You are such a judgemental self centered twit.

    You want your neighbours to be your friends, but on your terms, and when the topic suits you.
    You think sports fans and families are inferior.
    You for some idiotic reason think that being there for your kids games and practices cannot be quality family time.

    And yes free range ideals include community, but not everyone wants to be part of the community. As a matter of fact a neighbour like you would fall into the category of “THAT CRAZY OLD LADY DOWN THE STREET.”.

    After all you have said about your neighbour, I would label anyone that wanted to be your friend as a person with serious mental and emotional problems. You are a nutjob. I don’t blame your neighbour for avoiding you at all costs. I would be advicing my kids to avoid you as well. Sheeshh!

  93. Warren April 10, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    I considered hockey and baseball as great quality time. The old man used to be at as many of my games as he could make. And I went with him to his. As a matter of fact I coached his hockey team for years in my teens.
    When I turned 19 I started playing slo-pitch and hockey on his team.

    How many 19 yr olds do you know that play on the same team as their Dad, and goes back to the parking lot to have a couple of beers with him and the team. His hockey team even formed a father/son ball hockey team for a couple of summers.

    So sports may not be your thing. But do not look down on the rest of us that have bonded over sports and have great memories because of them.

  94. Donna April 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Papilio – Conversation requires the consent of both parties. One party is not obligated to seek out a common ground of communication simply because the other party wishes to speak with them. It is extremely self-absorbed to expect someone to WANT to converse with you for no reason other than you happened to have bought houses next door to each other. These neighbors obviously have no interest in befriending or even conversing with SOA and her husband. Why are they obligated to do so and their lack of desire rude?

  95. Donna April 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Dolly, some people in life will not like you. Get over it. Their failure to want to engage with you on a personal level is not rude. It simply means that they don’t like you. Leave them alone and stop trying to force them to like you.

    And, I have no interest in sports. I still maintain a modicum of knowledge about it, at least the local teams and big events, because it is a major source of small talk at social gatherings. It isn’t that difficult. Heck, I rarely need to look passed my news feed on Facebook for the latest info. And I will always feign interest in a kid’s latest sports accomplishment if that is what interests him/her.

  96. Andy April 10, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    “I don’t see how you can support free range which Lenore says community is a big part of it, and then advocate next door neighbors never speaking to each other besides a wave”

    No one advocates next door neighbors never speaking. What we advocate is to be more tolerant of other people personalities. Some people like to be alone and isolate themselves, others have only few topics they are able to talk about and some are simply introverted.

    There are all kinds of quirky or plain unsociable people. If you are the one with better social skills, count your blessings. Your neighborhood way rude once, long time ago, when he walked away with no goodbye after your husband could not talk sport. Stop being so obsessed about it.

    You can either accept it and socialize with people more like you, which I guess is optimal, or use your superior social skills and manage some small talk about sport.

    In any case, community should not be about forcing our preferences on other people.

    And seriously, what do you imagine an optimal “neighborhood community” would do? Exclude and bully all such people as kids in bad high school movies do? Because society has two options too: accept unsocial people exists (if it is what he is) or punish them and force to live completely out of society.

  97. Donna April 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    “How exactly was I rude to them?”

    Frankly, if I had made it as clear to you as your neighbors have that I wanted nothing to do with you and you kept inserting yourself into my life with “kind gestures,” I would find it extremely rude. I don’t want people that I have chosen not to socialize with at all, for whatever reason, to bring me food and invite my kids places.

    I don’t think your husband should have said anything different than he did when asked about football. YOU need to accept that not everyone wants to be your friend and not take their lack of interest in you as some failing on their part or blame sports for it. I have absolutely no idea why these people do not want to be your friend, but they clearly don’t. Get over it and yourself.

  98. Emily April 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Kids should be allowed to participate in whatever activities they choose, that their parents can afford (money and time-wise), as long as it’s not detrimental to their health, safety, family time, friends, grades, etc. In other words, it’s all about finding a balance. Elite-level sports/dance/cheerleading/gymnastics/music/theatre groups/whatever, aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but again, the interest should come from the child, not the parent. As for the latest Warren versus Dolly argument…..I’m not even going to go there, because everything turns into that, and whenever I say what I think, I get insulted.

  99. E April 10, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    @SOA, there seem to be numerous things you are combining here. First off, the main post is “food for thought” for parents of kids that play sports. It’s a reminder about traps that parents fall into as their child advances thru competitive sports. (I also happen to think it’s way too broad and snarky, but whatever). It has ZERO to do with what makes a pleasant neighbor.

    You have somehow judged your neighbor (who might be an introvert, might be a jerk, might not like you, might not care to engage you) as a non-free range anti-community parent BECAUSE they like sports. That’s just not true.

    Yes, people here want to encourage more independence and confidence in their kids. So do that. And surround yourself and our kids with people that share that viewpoint. If a family doesn’t share that viewpoint, so be it. They aren’t affecting what you do with your kids. Since you aren’t friends with them you don’t know why they choose not to walk to school. And it doesn’t matter.

    Maybe they are harried working parents that just find it easier to drive to school (don’t feel it necessary to point that isn’t the case, the point is you don’t know why they make decision they make). Perhaps they find “community” on the sports fields or at their church at with their families or whatever. They don’t have to do it “your way”.

  100. Havva April 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm #


    I’ve noticed that when someone tries to open a conversation with “What [sport] team do you root for?” they generally view it as a safe, universally appealing, get to know you topic. As a result saying “I actually don’t follow [sport],” (especially with the “actually”) is widely interpreted as “I don’t want to talk to you/ your interests are beneath me.” I take that as a total overreaction, but it is apparently built into the sense of universality about the topic. To them it seems is be like responding to “We sure had a lot of snow this winter” by saying “I don’t talk about the weather.” While fans of particle physics and other obscure topics are accustomed to people not wanting or being able to talk about it at all. I don’t think sports fans are.

    I’ve had much better luck with phrases along the lines of “Oh, my dad/sister like [team]. But I don’t have a team.” Or even, “Oh, I’m not particular. Who is your favorite?” That seems to be taken as being open to conversation in general, while clearly not being a fan. But they at least figure you are friendly. And since that keeps the conversation open. Heck even saying…”Eh, it’s hard to like [local team].” When I was trying to shut a fan of that team down, was treated as more sociable than “I don’t follow [sport].” Admittedly, their favorite team was so well known for sucking at the time, that even though I actively avoided sports news at the time I had heard they stunk.

    Between my boss, my husband’s boss, my neighbor, and some co-workers. I find it useful to at least occasionally take note of starts of seasons, major headlines, and when they say they are going to a game I’ll note the score. All I have to say to be considered sociable seems to be “I heard about the game last night, what a shame/that must have been fun/wow that was close.” On the very rare occasion when the sports pages make a big deal of something I actually read an article, and mentioning the big fumble at the 10 yard line or the double hitter in the bottom of the 9th, that makes the sports fans supper happy.

  101. SOA April 10, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    A Dad and son can bond over playing catch or shooting hoops, but you can’t bond while they are at practice or a game far away from you and you are sitting on the sidelines. Because you cannot even talk to each other in such situations. The coach would probably get onto you if you kept trying to talk to your kid during a game or practice yet if you are at practice several nights a week and games all day Saturday and Sunday, just when do you have time to talk exactly?

    At least with dance competitions they only do 1 competition a weekend a month. Baseball is every weekend around here.

    Just to clarify the neighbor is social. He was best buds with the guy that used to live in our house. He is buddy buddy with the neighbor on the other side of him. He is buddy buddy when he walks around the school and talks to everyone. He just thinks we are beneath him apparently because my husband can’t talk about throwing some tackles or some shit.

    Yes, we don’t even understand the rules of football and why should we if we don’t like it? You can’t say we should learn about it to talk to people and then not say maybe they should learn about some novels to talk to us. It goes both ways.

  102. Emily April 10, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Dolly and her neighbours do have something in common–they have kids who attend the same school. Also, Dolly isn’t trying to force a friendship with the dad; she’s simply facilitating a friendship between her kids and theirs. The kids like her, and they like her kids, and they’re school age by now, so they’re very much their own people, and therefore, they can (and should) make their own friends. Aside from the walking to school thing, the neighbour parents don’t seem to object to this, so why not let it continue? Some friends are family friends, some are friends with just the kids, or just the parents, or just one family member, etc., so I don’t see anything strange here. Dolly’s going to have to interact with the neighbour parents a little bit, in order to continue to facilitate the kids’ friendship, because she’s going to need their permission to take the kids on outings, invite them to her kids’ birthday parties, and (let’s hope this never happens) take them to the ER if they get injured at her house/under her supervision.

  103. E April 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    @SOA – I guess you are just not going to quit on this one? You are now judging the family time related to an activity that you ADMITTEDLY don’t know about nor participate in as a family?

    Kids and parents spend time in the car going to/from practices and games. You can spend time with your kids AND THEIR FRIENDS in these carpools, hearing what they talk about, learning about their interests. You can spend time with a picnic lunch (or pick up lunch) between games in a tournament. Your kid can hear you cheer for them (and their teammates) for great effort. You can TALK to our kids about their game experiences. What makes you proud of their behavior, how you felt about how an opposing player or parent behaves. Sports (as are most activities) are full of “teachable” moments.

    You can also sit down with your kid and watch a sport on TV or attend a sporting event together. I’d much rather do that than watch my kid play a video game (but if that’s what works for other families….go for it).

    Sports gets kids away from the computer, gets them exercise, puts them in situations where sportsmanship and cooperation are valued.

    Your neighbor is not your friend. The end. You don’t have to talk to them about sports. They don’t have to talk to you about novels. Apparently they aren’t your enemy so I’d say it’s all good.

  104. SOA April 10, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    He does not have to like me. I don’t really like him. But when you live next door to someone you need to be neighborly and friendly especially when your kids play together. I have made a lot of effort to be that way because its the right thing to do.

    For example, like with the snow and the schools and the kids getting trapped at school. If he could not get home to pick the kids up, it would make sense to ask the next door neighbor to hey can you grab my kids and bring them home? But if you don’t bother to even speak to me then you can’t do something like that. So the community aspect breaks down.

  105. Warren April 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Just because they both have kids that are friends with each other, does not mean there has to be anymore than minimal interaction.

    Dolly is focused on them because they are different, and understandably want nothing to do with her or her husband. By her posts on the subject you can see she is anti sport, and looks down on those that participate. She has no understanding of sports, by her comment on not being able to bond during games and practices.
    1. As a player seeing his/her parent/s in the stands supporting them means nothing to Dolly. Moron.
    2. I don’t know about Dolly, but when we travelled for whatever sport, that was family time. Time travelling, shared meals, shared hotel rooms. But no we never spent any time together. Again Moron.
    3. The friends that the players and parents make that last a long time. Why because they had something in common. The team. Again Moron.
    4. Spending time with parents outside of the team, playing catch, skating or whatever. Moron again.
    5. Later in life playing on the same teams as parents in adult leagues, because you all share the love of the sport. Big Moron.
    6. Years of memories that create great conversations, of games, places travelled, time spent together. WOW huge Moron.
    7. There is so much more, but suffice to say..Dolly makes HEAD MORON, on this subject.

    Last but not least, Dolly just cannot accept that these people do not like her. It is alien to her. Myself, I am in total agreement with her neighbours that she is not worth socializing with.

  106. SOA April 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    We say all the time on this site how sad it is that people don’t know their neighbors and how that whole thing has changed for the worst. Well prime example, right here. We tried to be friendly and get to know them on a superficial basis but enough and we were rebuffed.

    It goes back to the high school jock not wanting to bother with the book worm nerds. I really think that was a lot of it right there. And yes, to me that is sad.

  107. SOA April 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    I was a competitive dancer and I hardly ever saw my parents. So no, the competitive stuff does not mean tons of time with parents. My parents did not always travel with me to every competition and they certainly did not sit there and stare at me at every practice. I was dropped off and then when I was old enough to drive I drove myself or got rides with other people. That was actually how it was for just about every dancer that was over 14. So it was not just my parents.

    At my son’s studio they have closed classrooms so we can’t even watch them. I get to see him for all of 1 minute between classes when he comes out to change shoes and get water. Not quality bonding time there. So no, I don’t count that stuff as quality time.

    I think that you may be overestimating all the “bonding time”. Or even if you get that much bonding time in, that does not mean it is like that for every family.

  108. Donna April 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Dolly, it is normal for the 11/12 year old girl from the earlier motorcycle post to believe that the world revolves around her. You are a little old for that nonsense.

    Finding common ground takes TWO people. From your own description, it sounds like the neighbor approached your husband and attempted to engaged him in a sociable conversation. Sports is an extremely common and socially acceptable ice-breaker among male strangers. Your husband responded by shooting him down completely (in a rather insulting manner as if sports was beneath him) without suggesting something else to talk about. Neighbor went home and never tried to talk to him again(as would I have).

    Now apparently, in your mind, this neighbor was somehow obligated to keep suggesting topics of conversation until one suited your husband and his failure to do so rude. Really?

    An appropriate response in this situation would have been “I don’t really follow football, but, hey I’ve noticed your yard and it really looks nice. Do you do it yourself or have someone?” or whatever your husband can come up with to keep the conversation moving and show that he is actually interested in getting to know this person. Ultimately the jock and the bookworm might not have had anything in common and still not been friends, but they would probably exchange waves and the occasional social nicety.

  109. Warren April 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    Really Dolly,

    You move into the house beside this family that was there long before you, and you expect them to accomodate you. You expect them to make nice so you can pick up their kids, have their kids walk with you. Wow you are narcissistic.

    I suggest you go to youtube, and check out a video by Montgomery Gentry called “What do ya think about that.”

    You may just learn something. Probably not.

  110. Warren April 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Well Dolly you are just proving how messed up you are.

    Your parents are not the norm. Most parents of athletes actually do take an interest in their kids.
    Dolly, you really should see someone about all these unresolved issues.
    The jock/nerd thing.
    The abandonment issues with mom and dad.
    The insecurity of needing everyone to like you.
    To mention a few.

    After all you petty rantings on this subject I cannot for the life of me understand why your neighbours haven’t moved away from you. Unless of course you moving in dropped property values too low to make it viable.

  111. Papilio April 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    @Donna: I said “the other person in the conversation” – assuming both parties agree on having one in the first place. I (mis)understood from SOA’s story that was the case, at first anyway.

    P.S. I’m not going to read the rest of the comments, you bashing each other is rather tedious.

  112. Morgan April 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    I hate to be the one to inform you of this but youre about as ignorant as the human race can get. First of all if your kid is doing those kinds of things it means he’s a psychopath. Second of all, speaking as a Goth kid myself, dont preach about things youre uneducated about. Three fourths of the Goth community is nothing like what you just explained and I’m livid that you would say something like this. So here’s what I think. Honestly I would rather be a Goth kid who listens to metal than one who throws around a rubber ball with other kids in tights. I don’t want a boyfriend who’s so focused on football that he’s depending on a scholarship to get into college because his mom would disown him if he were different. And since were bouncing stereotypes around: I don’t want to go get wasted at parties. I don’t want to be pregnant at the age of 16. I don’t want to twerk, grind, or dance like white trash. I don’t want to be anything like you or your kid because people like you are the reason I’m ashamed of my society. From a Goths point of view, youre uneducated swine. I’m ashamed to say we’re from the same species. I would beg you not to procreate but unfortunately you already did. Have a nice day.

  113. E April 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    @Morgan, no one here wrote that, it’s from the link that was posted in the original post.

    And you misunderstood anyway, this was a rant about sports parents who are unreasonably afraid about their kids NOT being into sports….it really wasn’t a criticism on Goths anyway, it was talking about IRRATIONAL expectations about what sports offers or protects them from.

    But seriously, when anyone writes something like this:

    “Honestly I would rather be a Goth kid who listens to metal than one who throws around a rubber ball with other kids in tights.”

    …loses all credibility. You don’t defend a social group by dumping on another. You get that right?

    loses all ability to be taken seriously. You are highly offended at a sarcastic rant

  114. E April 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    oops, my edit left a final unrelated sentence in my last post…

  115. Emily April 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Nobody’s bashing sports, but all sports, all the time, is unbalanced. Travelling to competitions/tournaments is good for parent-and-child bonding time, but if there’s a competition or tournament every weekend, then that comes at the expense of whole-family time, or siblings if there are any (whether said siblings are taken along for the ride, or left at home), and at that point, it’s excessive. Also, team sports encourage kids to socialize……with other kids on the same sports team, with the same interests as them. That’s great, to a certain point, but too much of that, and not enough interaction with non-sport-related people, or participation in non-sport-related activities (school, family, community, the arts, church/synagogue if the family is religious), is a recipe for kids only know and understand sports, who grow up into adults who can only talk about sports. Of course, it’s not for Dolly to decide what “too much sports” is for the neighbour family, but being heavily involved in any one thing, can result in a bit of tunnel vision (as I know from my years as a music major in university), so the family might not think anything of what they’re doing. I hope it doesn’t take a torn ACL or something for that to happen, and in the meantime, I think Dolly is actually being a very good neighbour–she’s helping the kids to cultivate friendships with her sons (which could lead to “spin-off” friendships with her sons’ friends), so that they have friends outside of their circle of sports friends. She’s also helping her own sons to cultivate friendships outside of the dance studio, which is another good thing. So, I see this as a win-win, even if the parents of the neighbour kids aren’t interested in a friendship with Dolly. Also, I don’t think it’s rude to say you don’t follow sports–I’ve said it before, and nobody in my adult life has been offended, or summarily rejected me as a person, because of my lack of interest in sports. By the same token, I’ve never rejected anyone as a person for not being interested in the things I’m interested in (music, art, theatre, writing, activism, veganism, and yoga, to name a few). In fact, Dolly’s neighbour seems a little strange, but I think that that’s more a reflection on him than on Dolly, and by continuing to engage with the kids, Dolly’s helping them to develop friendships and interests outside of sports, so I think she should be commended for that instead of being vilified.

    Another thing–it’s much easier to help kids develop a diverse range of interests (or at least to be interested in more than one thing) while they’re still kids, than to get an adult to “branch out,” so I wonder if the neighbour father was raised the same way he’s raising his kids? Maybe he just doesn’t know anything else. Maybe he’s doing the best he can, by playing catch with the kids, driving them to practices and games, etc., and maybe, JUST maybe, he’s embarrassed that he can’t talk about anything besides sports. Maybe he met Dolly’s husband and thought, “Gee, he doesn’t like sports, so what could we possibly talk about? I’m going to excuse myself to answer the phone/get a drink/attend to one of the kids, and then I’ll just avoid this guy for the rest of my life.” My point is, it’s possible to have reasons for not interacting with someone, that have nothing to do with actively disliking them. Maybe one of the kids will turn the tide, by inviting the parents to accompany them to one of Dolly’s sons’ dance recitals or something. Maybe they’ll discover that ballet can be a good component to the training regimen for a lot of sports (football, for example), and the neighbour kids will join Dolly’s kids at the dance studio, and feel more comfortable there, because that way, they wouldn’t be the only boys in ballet class. Maybe it’ll happen another way (birthday party, school event, etc.), maybe it’ll happen all at once, maybe it’ll happen gradually, or maybe it won’t happen at all. Either way, it’s okay, but even if Dolly and the neighbour kids’ father don’t become friends, that doesn’t mean that Dolly is bad, stupid, or in the wrong. So, to wrap up a long-winded point, Warren is right that participating in sports can be beneficial, and Dolly is right that eating, sleeping, and breathing sports to the exclusion of all else, can be detrimental.

  116. Beth April 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    ” but waiting to see how the conversation could be related to one of her life experiences.”

    Gosh, does this remind us of anyone here?

  117. Warren April 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Emily and Dolly,

    Just because someone is a sports fanatic, does not mean they are not well rounded. That is an assumption you are making.

    Let’s face, Dolly has shown her stuff in here, and that is more than enough proof as to why these neighbours avoid her. I don’t blame them. She’s lucky. A neighbour like me would eventually tell her to mind her own business. Enough is enough, leave us alone. By the sounds of things, Dolly is a step away from having a restraining order filed on her.

    You want balance, that is easy. Stop judging. None of you have any idea what these people do outside of sports. But I will tell you one thing. They are intelligent people with taste. Avoiding Dolly proves that.

  118. anonymous mom April 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    @SOA, at the risk of being sexist, I think maybe you have female expectations about this. Most women I know do indeed seek out common ground in conversation (and it often ends up being something like their kids or families or neighbors we know in common), and I am pretty friendly with most of my female neighbors, even the ones I’m not friends with. I can at least carry on a decent conversation with them, no matter how little we have in common.

    I have found that many men are just not like that. They aren’t necessarily interested in seeking out common ground for chatting. If they have something they need to tell you, they will, otherwise, unless it’s something they want to talk about, they don’t bother. And I don’t think it’s limited to sports. I know many men whose conversational topics do not seem to extend beyond their jobs or the news or travel or traffic or movies or politics or religion or music or, yes, sports, depending on the particular man. Some are worse offenders than others, but I do think this is a relatively common male trait. I have not known a ton of men who are very motivated to seek out topics of common interest with acquaintances, and I know a good number of men who really are only interested in a conversation if 1) it’s necessary or 2) it’s about their pet topic or topics of interest.

    Again, obviously not all men are like that, and some women are. But I have found that women are much more likely to seek out conversational topics to engage in with people they don’t know well, and this guy might just be one of the many men out there who is kind of one-track in what he likes to talk about and isn’t interested in chitchat about other things.

  119. Emily April 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    But Warren, it’s not that simple–the neighbours’ kids apparently DO want to be friends with Dolly and her sons. They see that as a positive thing, Dolly sees that as a positive thing, and, even though I don’t know them, I think it’s a positive thing as well. So, I don’t think that a restraining order would be the way to go. First of all, it’s sort of on the level of killing ants with napalm, second, I’m not sure how it’s against the law to be friendly to someone even though they don’t share your interests, and third, Dolly’s going to have to interact with the kids’ parents to some degree, even if it’s just to get parental permission for the kids to stay for dinner, or go places with her and her sons, etc. It’d be the neighbour parents’ prerogative to forbid their kids from interacting with Dolly and her kids, but they haven’t done that, so they clearly don’t see any harm in the friendship. I don’t think they actively dislike Dolly; it’s more just that they don’t think they have anything in common. However, they still allow their kids to make their own friends, even if they don’t always agree with the kids’ choices, and that’s Free-Range in its own way.

  120. Owen Allen April 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    In my rural town in remote Australia, I am pleased to see so many kids involved in a variety of sports. My own sons, we decided they shall play a non-rugby game that didn’t require constant inter-town travel. There was only one, hockey. And because they played, I was asked to play, having never. They became pretty good players but we never enrolled them for representative teams. Many of their friends did. It didn’t kill friendships. On school holidays they went to youth camps and mixed in a multicultural environment including Aboriginal Australians. Oh, did I say they have an Iranian mother. They didn’t drink alcohol. They went to parties, sober. It didn’t kill their friendships. They got entrance to university and now one is working in the USA and about to start a Masters degree and is working with youth in his local community over there. I’m a physiotherapist. I see enthusiastic field, athletic and dance children every week, with injuries. Some are working at a State level. Some have gone on, from this small rural community, to make State and national teams, occasionally a pro. But I find that parents want to see their child looked after the best. Sometimes it is the child that is pushy. I had one girl crying when I said she couldn’t dance for maybe many months. She didn’t cry for her loss of status but her inability to do what she liked so much. Her mother seemed at a loss. When I told the child, “It wasn’t true, what she was thinking.” and she looked at me with wide eyes, and I told her, “You know that thing you think that you are useless and won’t dance again. that’s not true.” Her mother smiled in recognition. The girl stopped crying out of shock that I could read her mind. But we’ve all been there with something and the best support to be for a child is to be honest about our life and use it as an understanding of their life. However, accepting our life as it was, and being honest with it all, might make something change. Myself, as a teen and young man I played tennis, rugby, rode horses (some wild), toward middle age i played hockey, did scull rowing, and hiked in rainforests. Now in my 50’s I am a developing contemporary dancer. My goal this year: to walk on my hands. Actually with training I can now do physical things I couldn’t do a decade ago. Why? Passion. Inspiration. Contribution. Contemporary dance is an extraordinary engagement with body and mind for the mature person. I would like to see more and more community groups develop. Coming to Denver in May. Anyone up for a dance class?

  121. Warren April 10, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    No Emily, I am I quite certain they don’t like Dolly, completely understandable. They just don’t show it that much, for the sake of the kids.

    Secondly, these are people that have nothing in common with her, and want nothing to do with her. So why in the blue hell would she continue to push. The definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. She is not going to wear them down, they are not going to have an aha moment. She will push until she is told in plain english to get the hell off their property, and to stay away.

    Anyone want to take bets on which outcome happens? The neighbours end up friends with Dolly. Or Dolly is told to piss off.

    Think about it Emily. If a person has made it clear they want nothing to do with you, why would you keep pushing?

  122. hineata April 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    @Owen Allen – can I just say, good on ya mate! How exciting, to be doing all that in your fifties….I really need to get inspired to do the same thing. Wish I was going to Denver in May also, would join you dancing, LOL!

    Also, and soooo off topic but related to what I’m studying at the moment so will ask and hope you reply – why wouldn’t your sons be playing sports etc. with Aboriginal kids if you are in a rural area? Are they still mainly living in their own towns?

  123. SOA April 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    Warren: Weren’t you the one that was criticizing another poster here not that long ago because she got a quick bite to eat for her kids at fast food places before sports? You were all saying they were lazy parents and proper nutrition and sitting down at the table together should come first?

    So now you are saying something totally different? Interesting?

    Because I guarantee you sport parents hardly ever sit down to eat together at the kitchen or dining room table during the season. Because they are hardly ever home.

    The restraining order bit is laughable as his kids are on our property all the time so you can’t really get a restraining order against someone when your kids get on their property every day.

  124. Emily April 10, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    @Warren–The neighbour parents may not like Dolly that much, but the neighbour kids do, so it’s not a case of black and white. The neighbour kids may end up sharing some interests with Dolly’s sons, and vice versa. The two families already belong to the same neighbourhood AND to the same school community, and the neighbour kids’ play at Dolly’s house a lot, so even if the adults are never best friends, well, it’s going to be easier for them to coexist peacefully than for the neighbours to completely write Dolly and her husband off because they’re not sports fanatics. “Get the hell off my property” wouldn’t be beneficial to the kids, because they’d be destroying their kids’ friendships with Dolly and her kids, for no good reason at all.

  125. Warren April 11, 2014 at 7:54 am #


    Are you really that stupid?

    For someone that never has lived the sports life, and you can take your personal dance experience and shove it up your ass, you are making all sorts of wild assumptions, that are wrong.

    Between my baseball, football, and hockey, my brother’s rollerskating, my dad’s baseball and hockey, my mom’s card club, we still found and made time for family meals. Once a week there wasn’t a homecooked meal. And that was by plan. Either fish and chips, pizza or chinese, as a break for the cook, my dad.

    Dolly, you have no idea of what goes on in a sports family, other than what you have seen in your teen movies and on tv. That is not real life. Real life is that most families into sports are closer than any other family, because they have something they all love.

    Just because you had a pathetic childhood, in dance, do not relate that to those of us into other sports.

    Here’s another one for you, because we bonded over sports early my dad, myself and my kids all enjoy spending time with each other outside of those sports. My dad and I hunt with family every year. And more than a few times my dad, myself and my kids spend hours on the water fishing.

    So take your poor childhood experiences and go see a shrink, you need it.

    The great thing about a close family is exposing our kids to different things has not been left entirely up to just the parents. My kids get lots of exposure to things from all over the family. My parents, my brother and his partner, my aunt, my grandmother have all taken very active roles in their lives. They go to all sorts of things from the theatre, to museums, to special festivals, to hockey games, to demolition derbys.

    So Dolly until you have travelled that mile in a sports family’s shoes, keep your assumptions to yourself. Because you have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about.

  126. Warren April 11, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    It is obvious the Dolly cannot take the hint. She keeps trying to be friends with people that do not want to be her friends. Kids or not, these people have every right to not be her friends.

    And if she keeps pushing, they will tell her to get the f off her property, and take her kids with her. After all the moronic things she has said and done, I would completely understand that. It almost appears to be like she is stalking these people.

    Why can’t you and Dolly just accept that these people are under no obligation, legally, morally or socially to have any contact with Dolly. I know I wouldn’t. She’s a whackadoodle.

  127. BMS April 11, 2014 at 8:01 am #

    Back to the original topic of the article (as opposed to whether or not Dolly is rude to her neighbors or vice versa or whatever the point of all that is)

    First off, people do recognize snark and sarcasm, right? I mean, you do actually realize that the author is not making a real connection between playing sports and becoming an axe murderer, right? Hyperbole – it’s a fun way to write.

    My biggest issue with the way kids’ sports are is that, at least in our town, there is almost nothing between ‘No sports’ and ‘Psychotic Sports Family’. Once you are past 3rd or 4th grade, you can’t start baseball. If you don’t already know how to play, you’re screwed. After age 10, all teams in our local league require you to try out. So if you didn’t feel like doing baseball in 1st and 2nd grade, or you didn’t have the attention span for it yet, there is no way to start playing in 4th or 5th grade. You have to devote yourself to it every spring, or there’s no way to play. My older son did do little league in 2nd grade. It was hell. His attention span was about 20 minutes short of an actual game, so he would start getting bored in the outfield and playing with the grass or kicking the dirt around and getting in trouble. They didn’t do a very good job of rotating the kids around positions, so they put the less gung ho kids out in the outfield, where they could get even more bored. Then about a third of the games were on Sunday mornings. He was making his first communion that year – no way was he missing church for baseball. Sorry, God trumps sports always, but there are all sorts of games and practices on Sunday mornings in our town. By midway through the season he didn’t want to go, his brother, who had to get dragged to a lot of these games, stated his intention to never play baseball ever, and I was counting the days until it was over. When his brother did express a desire to try it in 3rd grade I flat out refused. I felt bad, but I know my kids – there would be 2 weeks of enthusiasm followed by whining about how boring it was and do I haaaaaave to go to practice?? Who needs that?

    The thing I like about middle school track (which they both begged to do this year) is that it is right after school, and they have to get themselves there, because we’re still at work. So they go, and they come home afterward, and if they don’t go, they can explain it to coach. I’ll go to their meets and cheer them on (if work permits), but other than signing the check, I refuse to invest any of my limited free time in this. And I think they’ll probably love it because it is their initiative and their responsibility. Who knows, maybe I’ll find this to be a sport that I find more interesting than watching paint dry.

  128. anonymous mom April 11, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    @BMS, yes! The lack of low-key, moderate-involvement sports options is disappointing. I do not want my kids involved in an activity that is going to require them to be at practices every night and games every weekend. My oldest also isn’t particularly athletically-gifted, so he’s not going to do well on a high-pressure team or if a lot of skill is needed. I’d love to find a group/league where kids could play a sport a couple of times a week in a fun, low-pressure way. And, no, I’m not interested in organizing one. 😉

    We do have a few programs like that for basketball for older kids (7th grade and up). I know a few local churches that have “pray and play” basketball during the year, where usually two nights a week there’s drop-in games going on. It’s low-pressure, and the focus is more on fun and socializing. I’d love to have more things like that available.

    Personally, I thought I hated sports when I was a child and teen, but as an adult I’ve realized it was just that I didn’t like the high-pressure attitudes and wasn’t at all willing to devote huge amounts of time to it. But I do think I would have enjoyed more laid-back, casual opportunities to participate. My oldest is very much the same. He isn’t all that athletic and he’s not going to make sports a primary part of his life, but he does like running around and playing soccer or basketball or baseball, provided people aren’t going to start yelling at him if he makes a mistake. There are lots of kids like him, I’m sure, and I wish there were more community opportunities for the to play via things like regularly-scheduled drop-in games.

  129. anonymous mom April 11, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    Just to add, I’m with you on frustration with activities that require a lot of weekend time. We also do church on Sundays, and, no, I’m not cool with sports or other activities that routinely cut into that. My husband also works all week–and many families have two working parents–so the weekends are when he relaxes and spends time with the family. I’d be okay with a few hours away on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, but no way would spending every weekend attending games and practices be okay with me.

    I don’t know, I grew up with weekends being family time, and that has stuck with me. We ALWAYS did family stuff on the weekends growing up, usually visiting relatives one day and spending time as a family together the other. I had cousins who did a lot more activities, and it wasn’t unusual for them to have sporting events on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and other holidays when the rest of the family was getting together. We need some perspective. Pro teams playing on Thanksgiving is one thing, but having a Little League team play on Mother’s Day is another. I do think there needs to be some consideration that family can and should come first. My personal hierarchy for the kids is family, then academics/friends/church/community (all kind of tied), and then personal interests like sports, but too many sports programs for kids pretty much force the family to put the activity first, and I’m not okay with that.

  130. SOA April 11, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    I believe my parents and all the other parents of every other dancer I danced with were more free range than you because they trusted me to handle my own activity and did not feel the need to sit there and make sure I was at practice and paying attention and help me tie my shoes. I was expected to handle it on my own. So to me the more free range parents are the drop off parents. They showed up for the important things like recitals but they did not feel the need to always be there making sure I was doing the right thing. And again, I was not the only one. If your parent showed up for every practice and competition, you would have been the odd ball, not the other way around.

    The whole culture of the parent that just sits there while the kid practices is kinda stupid. If it takes too long to get back home or your kids are small, it makes sense, but for older kids that are going to be there for hours, go to the mall or something. Sitting there is kinda like the definition of a helicopter parent.

    Again Warren failed to address the whole, I don’t go much on their property they come on mine so what does that do for your argument? Their kids are the ones that are always wandering over to our yard on my property. Because our yard is bigger and more open than theirs is. So when his son is out playing catch he always winds up on our yard. Maybe I should get a restraining order against them? I don’t care if his kids play on my yard. I am not pissy about something like that. I am just glad they are outside. Most of the time they are not home because they are at games all the time according to what the son tells me.

  131. Emily April 11, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    @Warren–Like I said before, Dolly’s neighbours’ kids DO want to be friends with her and her sons. The adults don’t, the kids do, and that’s fine, because they’re separate people. What Dolly is doing isn’t stalking; it’s facilitating a friendship between her kids and the neighbours’ kids. There’s nothing wrong with that. Also, from what I’ve read on here, Dolly quite enjoyed her dance classes growing up. That’s not a “pathetic childhood in dance,” it’s a happy childhood in dance, that happens to be different from your happy childhood in sports. Oh, and when I was in high school, and I was involved in multiple extra-curricular activities (band, band executive, student council, newspaper, peer assisting, and various other short-term projects over the years), that definitely cut into family time, but I don’t think I had a “pathetic” adolescence, because I was (finally) happy at school, after having a miserable time in school from about grades four through eight, because of bullying and other issues. I guess what I’m trying to say is, a happy childhood/adolescence, and a happy family life, doesn’t always look like the Leave It To Beaver ideal of the family gathered around the kitchen table for breakfast every morning, and dinner every night, and that’s okay.

    As for the lack of opportunities for casual, inexpensive, non-tryout sports past a certain age, things must have changed a lot since I was a kid. In my youth, there were school sports teams that were cheap or free, and there were recreational teams, and intramural teams, that didn’t require tryouts. There were fewer of these in high school, and some of them were for the less high-profile sports (swimming and archery, for example). Band was also open to anyone (although senior band was fairly demanding, so people who weren’t up to the challenge would quietly drop out), and on student council, anyone could be an independent member. So, what’s different now? Why has it become acceptable to only offer these undoubtedly beneficial experiences to the most athletic, talented, well-spoken, and let’s face it, POPULAR kids, while leaving the Sue Hecks of the world in the dust? I know, I know, there’s something to be said for “preparing kids for the real world,” etc., but in reality, if kids don’t make the cut for their activity of choice, they’re going to go home and watch TV or play with their various screened devices, and that doesn’t prepare them for anything; whereas being allowed to participate on, say, a no-cut soccer team (or whatever), would teach them about teamwork and responsibility and all that good stuff, even if they weren’t the next David Beckham or Mia Hamm from day one. There could still be elite teams with tryouts, etc., but I still don’t think it’s right to just deny the opportunity to anyone who’s not bound for the Olympics.

  132. SOA April 11, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Warren: You need to pay attention to what other posters are saying. Several other posters just explained how they were making games on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Sunday mornings etc and that DOES take away from family time and church time. So how do you respond to that?

    Several posters gave their personal stories about sports and did admit it became frustrating and overwhelming and they did not like it cutting into everything and becoming their whole life because that was all they had time for.

    So I guess their stories don’t matter either and they are morons too according to you?

  133. Donna April 11, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    “but for older kids that are going to be there for hours, go to the mall or something. Sitting there is kinda like the definition of a helicopter parent.”

    Actually many stay because the parents are friendly and enjoy socializing with one another while their kids practice. That whole community thing that you’ve been ranting about in this whole thread. Community is not just in your neighborhood. It can be found in sports and church and other shared interests. I’ve found that the friends that I have whose children do the same sports year after year usually end up building a very nice community with the other families involved.

    “Several posters gave their personal stories about sports and did admit it became frustrating and overwhelming and they did not like it cutting into everything and becoming their whole life because that was all they had time for.”

    Then the sports leagues they belong to were clearly not for them. Other people don’t have such complaints. See Dolly, all sports leagues are not the same and life is not one-size fits all. Families bond differently. Some families bond over dinner. We usually watch TV while we eat dinner and then take an after dinner walk or play board games as a family. I rarely hang out at my child’s extracurriculars and definitely don’t consider it family time. Many of my friends with older children have commented over the years about how sad they are when their kids age of certain sports leagues because they will miss all the time spent with family and friends at the ball field.

    Everyone is different. Stop judging everyone who doesn’t live exactly as Dolly wants them to live as wrong. It may be completely wrong for you, but yet totally right for them.

  134. BMS April 11, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    @anonymous mom:
    I also grew up where Sunday mornings were, well, sacred. There might be afternoon games – a lot of kids came to 11am mass in their uniforms, since the church was next to the ballfield – but nothing started before noon. Around here, a 9am Sunday game or practice is annoyingly common.

    As a kid, I did play softball in the summer. I sucked most royally, but I had fun with it anyway. I was able to do that, and Girl Scouts, and music, because none of them were an ‘all or nothing’ activity. It seems like now more and more activities are like that. You can’t do anything casually – I mean, there are no outlets for dabblers. I’m a cub scout leader, and we only have maybe 3 total commitments a month: 1 den meeting, 1 pack meeting, and maybe an outing or overnight. I see so many kids who really enjoy scouting, but can’t come even once a month because of sports. When they do come they have a blast, and they’re really learning a lot and so excited about earning their advancements. But then they never get their rank badge, because they literally cannot find 2 days a month to devote to something that isn’t sports, and they end up dropping out. There’s something messed up about that.

  135. anonymous mom April 11, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    @SOA, I think the problem is partly that the issue you identify is not confined to sports. I feel like, increasingly, most organized activities for kids are extremely time-consuming. It’s not just sports. I have friends who kids are forever running around because of the sports league they belong to, but I have other friends whose kids do competitive dance or are in concert choirs where they also seem to be driving kids to and from practices and events all the time.

    And some families may thrive on that. I have friends who seem to love constantly being out of the house and at different kinds of events. They have no problem sitting at a choir practice with their kid for two hours, and prefer that to an evening at home. More power to them, although that is not me AT ALL. I like everybody around the table for dinner and quiet evenings at home, and if I have more than 1-2 nights with things to do during the week, I feel totally overloaded.

    I think the problem isn’t so much that it’s bad that some families enjoy high-involvement sports activities, because every family is different. I’m not a huge sports person, but my husband does like to watch, especially football, and we made a deal this summer that if he would binge-watch Breaking Bad with me, I’d watch all of the Lions football games with him. Honestly, it ended up being kind of fun, and our kids liked watching, too. It wasn’t, IMO, a less worthwhile family activity than all of us watching a movie or everybody on their own devices or even all of us having a book discussion. (And, it did give me something to talk about with neighbors who I otherwise have nothing in common with. I do agree with whoever above said that having a basic knowledge of local sports–like having a basic knowledge of local politics–is a good thing for being able to relate to your neighbors.) So, if a family really enjoys devoting evenings and weekends to sports, that doesn’t bother me.

    I just think that the lack of less time-consuming options means that kids from the many families who don’t find devoting much of their free time to sports worthwhile or fun or something they are willing to do are left with very few options for sports participation, which they would likely enjoy and benefit from even if they don’t ever end up being particularly skilled.

  136. SOA April 11, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    anonymous mom: It is all about balance and sounds like your family does it wonderfully. As I said earlier I have many friends that have kids that do play sports. But they balance it. They can carry on a conversation about something other than sports. I will listen to them talk about their kids sports for a few minutes and then we move on to something else. It does not have to be sports sports sports sports and oh yeah sports. That is where I think you have gone too far.

    My kids have a hard time even finding other kids to play with because every night these kids have basketball league one night and scouts another night and then little league another night and then church choir another night. If they really honestly like doing all that, more power to them, but I really wonder if that is what they want or what they feel pressured to do and where is the free play?

    Free play has been proven time and again to be vital to children’s development and where do they get free play if they are doing organized activities every night of every day?

    It is one of those cases, where you know it when you see it.

  137. Warren April 11, 2014 at 10:26 am #


    Church? Really? Well as Father Jack said “God doesn’t give a crap where,when, or how you are dressed.”

    He used to love seeing teammates in uniform sitting together.
    He used to call on our hockey team, in our team jackets to take collection.
    We would go to whatever mass was available. Be it early, late on Sunday, or one of the Saturday night masses. We’ve gone to mass in so many different towns it is actually funny.

    If you have problems with how leagues are run, do not put them in with our leagues. Myself and my kids grew up in areas that had both house league and rep teams. You went to tryouts for the rep team, because you were the travelling team that represented the town, and skill and dedication were needed. The house league, for every age, everyone plays, with no thought to skill or whatever. Each kid plays the same amount of time, except pitchers. Pitchers are a different breed, and no parent has a problem with their playing time, because most kids do not want to pitch. Same for goalie in hockey.

    As for sitting thru practice, doing nothing…….not many parents do. Those not using the time as a social time, are out on the field helping the coaches with drills, mentoring or whatever. And no, we do not give a rat’s ass about background checks for them. Being a willing parent is good enough.

    As for holiday scheduled games, so freaking what. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Labour Day, Christmas Day or whatever day, to a lot of people are not sacred. My parents didn’t give a rat’s ass if we had games on those days, and if my kids do, I don’t care. I do not need a 24 hr period every year to celebrate being a Dad. I celebrate being a Dad everyday. If we are on the road for Mother’s Day, guess what that means Mom gets to pick the restaurant. Hell if I can work on all the holidays, and I have covered them all, then the kids can play on those days to. If someone has to play a game on a holiday, then take the whole family. Then the family is still together. If you believe the only way to have quality family time is in your diningroom and livingroom on those particular days, then you are even more sad than I ever imagined.

    Now as for the kids. Just because those kids want to play with your kids, does not mean that the husband next door wants to play with your husband. Is your husband that hard up for friends that this is such a big deal? Up here people have a pretty good grasp of who wants to be friends and who doesn’t. They don’t force themselves into other’s lives. Hell we have kids playing with ours that we don’t even know their names, where they live or who their parents are. If they are good kids, and friends with our kids, who cares? We don’t.

  138. lollipoplover April 11, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    I always remind myself that youth sports equals free playtime for my children. Outside of school and family commitments, these are the hours they get to do what they want. My kids LOVE sports. But I know for us, the 4 times a week practice schedule and long weekend commitments would not be their idea of fun play. So we don’t join those teams.

    My oldest daughter is on a travel soccer team. It’s coached by 4 dads (my husband is one of them) who still play soccer (though hubbie is sad to join the over 40 league) and keep it fun for the kids. We don’t travel outside of our local area because there are many good clubs nearby. They always stress that family comes first and keep the fun in the game. It is a pleasure to watch them play.

    My son stopped playing travel soccer last year and joined the township mixed ages team (12-15) and loved it. He met some great older boys who were wonderful role models of good sportsmanship (and are in upper grades at his middle school). There’s also a coed soccer team for ages 10-12 that he could have done. The township level sports are usually one practice a week and one game a week. He loves soccer but is serious about his schoolwork and this fit the amount of *play* he wanted to do.

  139. SOA April 11, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Warren: what happens if not every family member likes sports or the activity? That is not family bonding time to drag them along to Junior’s game. I can guarantee on Mother’s Day in the future when I am a Grandmother if they try to drag me along to my grandson’s baseball to sit out in the sun all day long, my answer will be “No thank you”. I can guarantee you all my dance mates’ brothers never enjoyed sitting through hours of competitions or recitals. They always looked bored out of their freaking minds.

    So again it comes down to balance. Sure they can suck it up and sit through one recital or one game but if they are not really into it, making the siblings sit there every weekend over and over is kinda ridiculous.

  140. Warren April 11, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    When my kids are at a weekend tournament, what do you think they do when there is an hour or more between games?

    They FREE PLAY with their friends. You are so ill informed, misled and absolutely biased.

    This all comes from your childhood. Always the last one picked for a team? Just wondering where this hatred came from.

    And you know what without sports there would be more kids at risk, more crime, more ill behaviour, more bad grades. That is a fact, it has been proven. In a lot of areas where youth leagues have been started, all of these things improved.

  141. lollipoplover April 11, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    “I can guarantee on Mother’s Day in the future when I am a Grandmother if they try to drag me along to my grandson’s baseball to sit out in the sun all day long, my answer will be “No thank you”.”

    Last Mother’s Day, my daughter participated in a soccer tournament that was a fundraiser for a local family that needed financial help for the mom who was being treated for advanced breast cancer. They lined the fields pink. Our girls wore pink socks and each mom was given a pink bouquet of flowers. The dads brought some lovely mint juleps and appetizers and the siblings served us. It was one of the best Mother’s Days I’ve ever had.

  142. Emily April 11, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    @Warren–The options for youth sports where you live (house league OR rep league, open or tryout-based, everyone can play at the level that’s best for them) seem pretty good. It’s also really nice how your church accommodated kids’ sports, by having services that ended before the sports-related engagements started, or started after they ended. However, that’s not the reality everywhere, and there’s no need to roll on the floor laughing at people who say that it’s not their reality, and that there aren’t any options in between “couch potato” and “pre-pubescent pre-Olympian” where they live, and/or sports and church are scheduled at the same time. Yes, it’s possible to move someplace with middle-of-the-road options, and mega-churches with multiple times for every service, but there are other factors that go into a decision like that, like housing options, schools, parents’ work, friends, other activities that family members might be involved in, etc., etc., etc. For example, most people here know that I belong to a steel band, and there aren’t many of those around, so if I moved, I’d probably have to quit drumming. Since I love steel band, and I have friends in the steel band, and I’ve kind of become a part of making the steel band happen (I help to arrange the music), that’s not a decision I’d make lightly.

    As for having free play in between organized sports games, that’s true, it does happen, but it’s always with the same teammates, so the kids who are really serious about their chosen sport, don’t get a lot of opportunities to make friends with kids who don’t play that sport. It’s also always on a set schedule, within the framework of the activity. So, it’s not as if the kids get to go outside and go sledding between hockey games or anything like that; they’re in the arena building playing knee hockey with mini sticks (just an example, but when my brother played youth hockey, all the kids were mental for mini sticks, so the parents’ association sold them at tournaments, and made a fortune). Also, the free play has to stop in time for the next organized game to start, so it’s never completely “free.”

    As for family time, well, maybe that happens with sports, but it’s often unbalanced family time, with all of the attention, energy, and resources being devoted to the athlete, while the other siblings and family members take a back seat. That was how it was when I had to go along to my brother’s hockey tournaments–up early, long drives to arenas in the middle of nowhere, and a lot of standing around, and eating bad food. I was really happy when my parents decided I was old enough to stay home alone for a full day, and didn’t have to go to the games and tournaments if I didn’t want to. I mean, sure, I liked watching my brother play hockey, but I didn’t want to do it ALL the time, and I would have resented it if I’d been dragged along to everything. He ended up quitting hockey after three years, so he’d have more time for skiing on the weekends (which was more of a “family activity,” because my dad and I did it too), but there were die-hard hockey families on his team, and in the (open, recreational) league he played in, where everything literally revolved around hockey. By the same token, my brother didn’t enjoy going to my band concerts when I was in high school–he didn’t like music, so he found them boring. There were some die-hard “band families” in the high school band (mine wasn’t one of them, although I was fairly active in the band myself), but by the time I was that involved, my brother was also old enough to stay home alone, and didn’t have to go along to everything. My point is, some of this kind of “family time” is okay, but it probably shouldn’t be the only thing that the family does together. Family time doesn’t necessarily have to happen at home, around the dinner table or the Monopoly board, but at least some of it should be about the whole family, with everyone being able to participate equally. Otherwise, you can end up with the kid in the most time-consuming activity, consuming an inordinate amount of the family’s resources, and that’s not really fair.

  143. Warren April 11, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Wow Dolly you are one self centered piece of work.

    Because it is Mother’s Day you wouldn’t go? That is just pure selfish behaviour, and a real bad example for your kids and grandkids. That is just shameful. With an attitude like that, I doubt your grandkids would want you to come to their event anyway.

    It is really clear Dolly that everything has to revolve around you, from holidays to conversation topics. You are showing your true colours.

    Emily stop judging all sports families by the extreme ones that always stand out.
    If people live in an area with limited options for things, either move, change things, or live with it. Either way I don’t give a rat’s ass. Not my problem. My problem is these morons that think they have the right to judge sports families in the light they are.
    If you cannot see Dolly for who she is, then I feel for you.
    Like lollipop, our ball league had tournies on both Father’s and Mother’s day one year. The organizers wanted to do a breakfast for the dad and mom on their day. Know what the dad’s all agreed on……….don’t do one for the dad’s and save the money to do a much better one for the mom’s.

    And for the record Emily, we did go sledding between games in certain towns. Stirling has some great hills near the arena as do some others. So do not lump us in with your experience.

  144. Emily April 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    @Warren–Okay, so you went sledding in between hockey games. It still had to fit in between the scheduled times for games, meals, etc., unlike completely free play. Also, I think that other people have a point about their kids not having anyone to play with, because all the other kids are being shuttled around from one scheduled activity to the next. You also didn’t address my point about “family time” becoming lopsided when one member is involved in a very time-consuming activity, but that can be a problem too, for everyone involved–the non-activity siblings can feel marginalized, and the one doing the activity can feel entitled to all (or most of) the family’s resources, by virtue of being good at the activity. So, it’s not a good precedent to set.

    As for “moving, changing things, or living with it,” we did–my brother quit hockey so he’d have more time to ski, and also because there weren’t any non-contact leagues back then, and he’d reached the age (twelve) when body-checking started, but was still fairly small, so my mom didn’t want him being slammed into the boards by man-sized preteens. I know you don’t like that reasoning, but the fact was, hockey didn’t work for our family anymore, so instead of complaining, we left. I also had to quit figure skating as a kid, because there was no one to drive me anymore when my mom started law school, and it was at night, so I couldn’t walk to the arena in the dark at the age of nine. Again, no complaining about how it should be earlier, etc., we just left. By the time I was in high school, band and student council, etc., DID work for me/our family, because they met at the school, and I didn’t need to be driven around a lot for them. Most of the activities I did then also gave participants the opportunity to express opinions and make changes on things that didn’t work, and we did. Actually, that’s another thing–where do you draw the line between “whining and complaining” and “requesting a change?” What if you were coaching hockey, and several of the parents asked politely if you could make the Sunday practices earlier or later, because of church? What if they were willing to work with you to arrange that? Is it always just “take it or leave it, and if you leave it, you’re a quitter,” or is it ever possible to be flexible?

  145. CrazyCatLady April 11, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    The problem that I have with sports, 4-H, other competitions, is that they end up taking more time that agreed apon in the beginning.

    All of my friends who have their sons doing baseball say “it isn’t so bad – two weeknight practices and a Saturday game.” Only then the coaches decide they need more practice and it ends up be 4 nights a week and Saturday.

    Same with 4-H. Once a month meeting, then the week of the fair. Only we have to do a bunch of decorations and crap for the fair so the barn looks nice. So we end up with a week and a half of commitment.

    Future City and First Lego League…same thing. Oh, we might do really well, so the last two weeks we will meet daily. And we need the parents to help. No, that doesn’t work so well for me.

    Yes, all of the above activities are worthwhile. But they tend to end up dominating everything so that all life revolves around that one thing. I have other responsibilities too, as do my kids.

  146. Warren April 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Really, how many what ifs do you want answered? Be a parent, deal with the non playing kid. Okay, words of experience coming for the non playing kid.
    1.Get them involved with the team. My oldest came to all my youngests games. She learned to keep score, kept the young ones organized as to batting order, helped with chin straps, catcher’s equipment.
    2. Bring a friend for the non player to play with.
    3. Have them cheer their sibling on.
    4. Make it even. Drag the player to non sports things with the non playing child.
    5. If the non player has no outside interests to bring the family to, then for the sake of the family the non player just has to suck it up. It’s called life.

    Until you have been in the sports community, to that extent, you have no right to judge it as wrong, unbalanced or whatever. The vast majority of families make it work.

    It is not freeplay because it is between scheduled games? Give me a break. Then it is not freeplay because it is in between homework and dinner. It is not freeplay because it is in between end of school and judo class.

    Kids running around a playground having a good time with no parental interference is freeplay. Kids sliding down an icy hill in winter is freeplay. Does not matter how long, where, or what they are doing before or after. Give your head a shake.

    You and Dolly need to seek a good shrink.

    The point of other people’s kids not having kids to play with because they are busy. What the hell? Since when did other people’s kids social life become my problem. Like I am going to dial some activity back so the kid three doors down has a better social life. That is one of the most idiotic points yet, Emily.

    As for the non playing kid not getting the time, resources and such, I call bullshit. Other than the extremes or a hole parents, that does not happen. My brothers rollerskating was year round, and required a lot of time and resources, as did my sports. The ones that complain in adulthood, are the ones that didn’t find something to do and love. Their choice, live with it. What are parents to do, say no to a tournament ” We are just going to stay home, to be fair to your little sis/bro. Even though they don’t want to join or participate in anything.” Again a laughable point.

    If some parents didn’t find the balance with multiple kids, it is the parent’s fault, not the fault of the sporting community. My parent’s found the balance, I found the balance and the vast majority found the balance. Yes my parents made sacrifices for us, just as I did/do for mine. It is called parenting. I have let my team down to go to my daughters game a few times. Why, because it is my daughter’s turn. I had mine. Now it is hers. Same for dance recitals, plays and debates. The only time I haven’t kept my ass in the bleachers is when I am on call, and have to go to work. Why, because that one service call pays for their activity.

  147. SOA April 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Warren: I don’t like sports and never had any desire to play them so there goes your picked last theory. Funny, I knew tons of football players that did drugs….our star linebacker was a drug dealer…..anyways….

  148. SOA April 11, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Lollipoplover- I am glad you enjoyed that Mother’s Day. That sounds sweet if you like soccer. For me, I don’t care what special things anyone does for me, I would never enjoy myself at a sports game unless I could bring a book and read the whole time. End of story.

    I would happily attend a game if my kids or grandkids were playing to be supportive and suffer through it every once in awhile but certainly not on a holiday. I would rather sit at home alone, just saying.

  149. Warren April 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Well Dolly,
    Those last two post just proves what I have been saying all along, about you.

    You are self centered, anti-sport, controlling and a BITCH!!

    Drugs and football, wow. Yes football made them a drug dealer, you moron.

    You have no idea of what it is like to be involved with your kids on this level, so do us all a favour and just keep your yap shut, and stop with the insanity.

    I really do see why your neighbours cannot stand you around.

  150. SOA April 11, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Warren: Actually yes, one of the major reasons we did not do competitive dance with my son is his autistic brother would be marginalized. He would be left alone with Dad at home several days a week and during long competition weekends because he can’t handle the crowds, loud music, sensory overload the dance studio and competitions would have. We thought about it and realized it would be very unfair to him. We don’t even make him stay the entire recital. We bring him and try to get him to last as long as he can and then my husband takes him home. That is what families have to do. Compromise and balance. If we were all in to the dance stuff, there would be no way to work around my other son and still do the competitive dance.

  151. anonynmous mom April 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    @CrazyCatLady, you just brought back memories of why I quit the flag-twirling squad after two years. It was pretty fun. It was something I enjoyed doing all right, and I had a lot of friends in the band, and I didn’t mind going to football games. The stated-at-the-outset commitment was one-hour practices after school three afternoons a week, and then attending football games and the occassional weekend competition. Fine. But, inevitable, there was that commitment creep. One hour practices ran for two. Oh, and the band needs to meet the other two days because they just need more practice, and we need to be there. Oh, and we need more practice, so let’s stay an extra hour after the band finishes the regular practice. And I always seemed to be the only person who resented the extra practices–I was fine with the original schedule, but I had not signed up for an every-day, multi-hour-practice activity–so it just made more sense for me to stop after two years than expect people to actually stick to the schedule.

    I just had a friend who was very upset when her son’s one-practice-and-one-game-a-week baseball team quickly turned into a 3-to-four-practices-a-week-a-game-and-some-extra-weekend-hours team. That wasn’t what she had wanted, but who wants to disappoint a kid by pulling them mid-season?

    And, as you say, it’s not just sports. I know dance and chorus and Lego and robotics parents with the exact same complaints. Basically, whener competition is involved, you seem to end up with the people running things demanding more and more from the kids and from their parents than they had signed on for.

    It’s frustrating. I understand why people want things like additional practices or extra hours before a competition, but if that’s not what people signed up for, then you shouldn’t demand it. If your team can’t win the competition meeting two afternoons a week, well, that’s okay. I’d rather stick to the twice a week meetings and lose or have my kid lose than suddenly expect that the children and their families make this activity the center of their lives.

  152. Warren April 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Really Dolly, that is what families do? They have on child do without because of the autistic child? Way to go Mom. Have one child resent the other.

    There is no way in hell I would take that approach. No way would I have one child do without because of their sibling, no matter what the condition or issue. That is completely unfair to the child that wants to do things.

    You make extra efforts, you take the steps to make sure the autistic child gets what they need and want. You don’t hamper the other child.

  153. Emily April 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    @Warren–I did have other interests during my brother’s hockey years–primarily swimming and volunteering at the YMCA, with the Leader Corps (which also worked for my family, because it was local, not too expensive, and the schedule stayed consistent). But, no, I don’t think it’s fair for the “non-playing child to suck it up for the family” (or, more accurately, the sibling in the activity) ALL the time. Maybe they do have other interests, but there’s no money or time for them to pursue those hobbies, because all the time and money are going towards the sibling on the sports team. Maybe their interests aren’t of the “scheduled” variety–maybe they like to paint, or write, or cook, or make movies, or build Lego robots, or any number of other things that you might not find quite as easily in the Parks and Recreation brochure, but that doesn’t make those interests any less valid.

    As for scaling back extra-curricular activities so that the kids down the street have a better social life (with your kids), I didn’t mean it that way–I just meant that the culture of scheduled activities has become so pervasive, that people feel that enrolling their kids in scheduled activities is the only way that they’ll ever make any friends outside of school. It’s one thing to sign them up because they want to do it (and take them out if they don’t want to anymore), but signing them up because “everyone else is” isn’t a good enough reason, and it just feeds into the cycle. I know you didn’t do that, and you let your kids pick what they wanted to do, but a lot of parents do jump on the “scheduled activities” bandwagon because “everyone else” is doing it.

    Also, if kids are involved in one activity exclusively, they tend to primarily (or only) socialize with other kids involved with that activity, which isn’t healthy either. I fell into that trap in high school band, and there was a lot of infighting and drama (especially since I was two years younger than my main group of friends, as I was musically ahead of my age/grade level), because, well, it happens with groups of teenagers spending a lot of time together. After my older friends graduated, I remember feeling too old for my peers, a lot of the time. So, I recognized the problem, and started spending more time with my student council friends, theatre friends, and “been around since grade nine” friends. If I hadn’t taken the time to develop and maintain friendships with people outside of my “major” in high school (which later became my major in university), then there would have been times that I didn’t have any friends. So, I never said that taking any one activity seriously was a bad idea (because I did it myself), but taking any one activity EXCLUSIVELY (either individually or on a whole-family scale), can be. Everyone draws the line in a different place, but not drawing it at all can be unhealthy.

  154. anonynmous mom April 11, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    @Warren, I don’t think routinely scheduling activities on what are traditionally family holidays is no big deal. Having a Father’s Day baseball game or a Mother’s Day dance recital sounds like an awesome idea to the people organizing those things, I’m sure. But, I do think they need to step back and think about the priorities of most families. The world does not and should not revolve around the kids’ activities, and I guarantee you that, most of the time, grandma would rather be spending her Mother’s Day around the table than sitting in bleachers or in an auditorium.

    My parents loved me and my sister, and they didn’t dislike sports or dance. But, the only enjoyable-for-them part of the three-hour dance recitals they endured were the maybe 15 minutes total when my sister or I was performing, and they routinely brought novels and craft projects to our softball games because for many people kids’ softball games are excruciatingly boring except for the few minutes when your kid is up at bat. We don’t generally show up to see people dance or play sports or play music not-very-well, for a reason: it’s not enjoyable.

    I love my kids, and I don’t dislike sports, but if my kid had a Mother’s Day game and they tried to make it “better” by having a breakfast beforehand, my only thought would be “Holy crap, I have to stay at this thing every longer?!” Would I suck it up and put a smile on my face during it for my kid? Sure. (I just played an hour-long game of Pokemon cards with my oldest, an activity that I enjoyed less than the blood draw I got yesterday, but it’s my kid and I can feign an interest in things he likes at least some of the time. I could handle a football or baseball game, especially if I could bring some knitting with me.) But would it be or feel like quality family time? No. For some families it might be, and that’s fine, but the question is whether and why families who *don’t* want to devote a good chunk of their evenings and weekends to sports should be, in many places, effectively locked out of organized activities that do have many benefits for kids.

  155. anonynmous mom April 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    @Warren, I realize there are personal things going on here, but of course families need to compromise. I don’t think Dolly was saying, “So my son could never dance again.” It was just that competitive dance didn’t fit in with the overall needs of the family. That’s okay. Families make choices like that all the time. There are many reasons–from finances to work schedules to siblings with special needs to just family priorities–that would prevent a family from agreeing to participating in a high-involvement activity, and that’s okay. A child isn’t going to be “hampered” because they can’t be on a competitive dance squad, and a parent isn’t responsible for making any sacrifices needed in order to allow a child to participate in any activity they want to participate in.

    If a child loves to dance, I’d say the responsibility of the parent is to make sure that child has opportunties to do so. But what opportunities they will take advantage of and which they will pass up is going to vary from family to family, for many reasons. That’s okay.

    “Missing out” or “doing without” because of the needs of siblings isn’t bad parenting, it’s life. Families make sacrifices for each other. I have a 10 yo and two younger kids who are 4 and 2. There are some things my eldest misses out on that his friends do because right now they don’t work for our family. We can’t stay out as late as his friends with older siblings can, and some of the places they go aren’t places we can go because we’ve got the little ones. But, that’s okay. Nobody can do everything; everybody misses out on things sometimes; family comes first; and it’s okay to be disappointed. And, he doesn’t resent his siblings. He loves them, and he often thinks it’s cool that he gets what amounts to two little minions who will adoringly follow him around and do his bidding, when his other friends are always complaining about their closer-in-age siblings (who I’m sure they also love and who they get to enjoy things with that my oldest doesn’t).

    Life isn’t perfect, and you don’t always get to do what you want. Good parenting doesn’t mean shielding your kids from that, just helping them through it.

  156. Warren April 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Dolly, anon, crazy, Emily,

    That is fine, it may not work for you. I really don’t give a rat’s ass. But I’ll be damned if you think you can sit in judgement and say that it cannot work for the rest of us.

    You couldn’t or more likely wouldn’t make it work, that is your issue to deal with, not ours.

    And I do not care who comes to Dolly’s defense, if you make your child give up things, not allow them to do things because they have a sibling with issues….that is just plain bad parenting. That is just the reverse of what she is bitching about. Instead of it being all about the active child, it is all about the autistic child. That is not balanced, not fair and potentially creating problems between the kids down the road. You don’t have to be a shrink to see that coming a mile away.

    There is always a way. You just have to not be lazy.

  157. anonynmous mom April 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    No, Warren, there isn’t “always a way” and there doesn’t have to be. We’re not talking about a life-saving bone marrow transplant but a competitive dance team (and it sounds like Dolly’s son still takes dance and participates in recitals, just not with the level of commitment that the competitive team would have required). It’s not necessary, and it’s not the kind of thing that parents should make any sacrifice necessary to do.

    We’re a one-car family. That means that an activity that required one of the kids to be going someplace 3-4 nights a week, particularly if we had to come along, and that meant that many weekends we’d be gone the whole time does not work. Is it fair to the rest of the family that they can’t go anywhere because one child wants to participate in an activity that monopolizes the car most of our free time?

    What about families with financial constraints? Should they take second jobs or go into debt so that their child can not only play on a community baseball team but also participate in the travelling league?

    What about families where one or both parents work nights and weekends? Many of these activities would not work for them.

    What about parents who themselves have aging parents to help? By the time I was a teenager, three of my four grandparents were not doing all that well, and my parents spent at least one full day most weekends helping them. Are you supposed to privilege your kid playing a sport or dancing over helping your ailing parents?

    What if your family needs an older child or teen’s help with the family business or around the house? Sure, they might be able to spare them a couple of nights a week, but if they are out more than they aren’t, that just isn’t going to work for them. What if a teen is working to save money for college? How are they going to fit in participating in a high-involvement activity with a 15-20 hour a week work schedule?

    What if you’re a single parent? How are you supposed to do everything you need to do if you are transporting your kid to and from practices most nights of the week and need to be at events every weekend? What if you have other kids? What are you supposed to do with them?

    Sure, if you are a middle-class suburban couple with 2-3 cars and 9-5 jobs and 1-2 kids and a good deal of disposable income and no other significant family responsibilities, an activity that meets 3-5 times on weekday evenings for several hours plus most weekends might work for you. But, that is not reality for most families. And it’s silly to say that it’s laziness that would keep families from getting involved in this sort of activity. For many families, it just is not going to work, for a variety of practical reasons. For other families, even if they could work it out practically, having a child so involved in a single activity is not something that lines up with their priorities.

    That’s the problem. When you make sports activities so time-consuming, you are automatically excluding many kids and many families who would enjoy them and be willing to make things work if there was less time commitment involved. But to say that being a good parent requires a willingness to devote most weeknights, nearly every weekend, and a good number of holidays to a single activity of a single child–and figuring out how to “make that work” if you are one of the many families who can’t easy accomodate something like that–is just totally off the mark. I don’t see many better ways to make a child believe they are indeed the center of the universe than to have the entire family rearrange their lives around the child’s interest of the moment. Again, if it works for the family and fits with their priorities, that’s fine, but if it’s bad parenting to not have your child participate in expensive, high-commitment activites, then I guess most parents are terrible parents.

  158. Warren April 11, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    anon, I could counter each and every point with another, except financial conditions. Nothing that can be done about that.

    I was addressing taking a kid out of something they enjoy, because of a special needs sibling. That is wrong no matter how you spell it, say it or defend it. So take your rant and shove it where the sun don’t shine.

  159. Emily April 12, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    @Warren–I’m not a parent, and when my brother and I were kids participating in various extra-curricular activities, I wasn’t the one with the disposable income and the vehicle, so it wasn’t my responsibility to “make it work”; it was my parents’ responsibility, and they did the best they could. That said, sometimes, it’s just not possible to accommodate different family members, with different needs/wants/interests, at the same time. For example, when I was a kid taking figure skating, I sometimes had to miss my lessons, which met twice a week, when my dad had his Optimist Club meetings, which were once a month. This was because my dad would take his car to the Optimist Club, and my mom had a car as well, BUT when I was aged 6-8, and enrolled in figure skating, my brother was aged 3-5, and had to go to bed earlier than I did, and earlier than my skating lessons let out. I wasn’t allowed to walk the five or six blocks to the arena in the dark, and the Optimist Club meetings were further away, later, and longer than skating, so my dad couldn’t have dropped me off and then picked me up later–plus, I couldn’t independently lace my own skates at the age of six, so that wouldn’t have worked either. So, on those nights, I had to miss skating, so that my dad could go to his meeting, my brother wouldn’t be sleep-deprived the next day, and my mom wouldn’t have to deal with it (this was before she went to law school, so she was a stay-at-home mom at the time, while my dad practiced law). That was in an upper-middle-class family, with just two kids, and just one working (9-5ish) parent, and just one kid participating in one local activity that met twice per week. In families with more kids, less money, fewer (or no) vehicles, both parents working (maybe different/odd hours), more compromises have to be made.

    Also, from the viewpoint of an autistic child, life is just one compromise after another. The humming fluorescent lights at Wal-Mart hurt the child’s eyes and ears, being in bustling crowds of people overwhelm and exhaust him, waiting in line in close proximity to other people is claustrophobic and feels interminable, but he still has to go in there, because his mom needs to buy things for the family, his dad is at work, and he can’t be left at home alone. School is full of pushing, shoving, shrieking kids who call him “weird” and “psycho” on a daily basis, and “spaz” when they see him stimming as a coping mechanism, and the teachers insist that he join them on the playground at recess, in order to “improve his social skills.” Add in a sibling’s extra-curricular activity that requires the autistic kid to spend MORE time in noisy, crowded, unfamiliar situations, and, well, I know my description isn’t perfectly accurate, because I’m not autistic myself, but I think I’m somewhere in the ballpark, and I can see why Dolly wouldn’t want to subject her autistic son to that. As for the son who dances, he can still dance, and who’s to say he couldn’t join the competition team once he’s old enough to get himself to dance? Since Dolly is a Free-Range parent, that “old enough” might happen sooner rather than later, if Dancer Son is able to take public transit or get a ride with a teammate. In the meantime, Dancer Son gets the benefit of his regular dance classes (although the competition team has to wait), while Autistic Son doesn’t have to suffer through being at the dance studio for hours on end, all the time. His condition isn’t preventing Dancer Son from dancing at all, because he does have to be at the studio for the time that Dancer Son is doing his classes, but that’s less time than it would be if he was on the competition team. That’s a compromise–nobody’s being lazy, Dancer Son isn’t being held completely hostage to Autistic Son’s needs, but at the same time, the whole family doesn’t have to revolve around dance. Actually, I remember Dolly saying in a previous thread that Dancer Son doesn’t always enjoy dance, and sometimes balks at the conditioning exercises. In that case, maybe dancing recreationally is just right for Dancer Son, and competing would burn him out.

    So, given that information, the current arrangement makes perfect sense for their family. I’m sure they’ll re-evaluate if and when it doesn’t make sense anymore. In the meantime, there has to be a balance point–it’s not fair to prevent Dancer Son from dancing altogether because of Autistic Son, but it’s also not fair to drag Autistic Son to the crowded, noisy, meltdown-inducing dance studio, and make him stay there and wait for his brother almost every afternoon, evening, and weekend. Anyway, Dolly, I’m not sure if I got that exactly right, but am I at least close?

  160. Andy April 12, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    If one kid hobby requires too much sacrifice from other members of the family, then it is ok for family to decide to take him out. I do not care whether it is for financial reasons, special needs sibling, too many siblings, parents getting crazy for having little to no time for their own hobbies/reading or whatever else. I do not even care whether we are talking about sport, music, art or whatever else.

    I doubt that the taken out kid life will be forever destroyed for it. He will find community or another less time demanding sport elsewhere. World does not have to revolve around anybodies hobbies and all families have to find some balance between different members wants.

    If you are sport family as Warren seems to be, then you will not see those demands as too much sacrifice. Others will see it as too much and opt out. Both are ok as long as they do not insist on calling others “lazy” or “obsessed”.

  161. JP April 12, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    – sort of like playing that sunset super lottery:
    A normal middle class existence shrinks annually, and gives over to the dream of professional sports riches.
    Meanwhile kids – just don’t discover the joy of physical play without all the hoohaw (AND the ultra-supervision that goes along with it.)
    I remember when kids used to laugh their heads off while playing sports. Part of the joy was in the comedy of it. That doesn’t wash with dreams of fame and 8-figure paychecks.
    Weren’t those ER stories horrific, though?
    Those questions weren’t asked by the kids (that would be understandable.) They were asked by parents. Grown responsible adults.
    Still life in sweats.

  162. SOA April 12, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    Emily- yes thank you, you nailed it.

  163. SOA April 12, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Warren: Actually my son on his own decided against competitive dance for now. We weighed all the issues like driving the 45 minutes to get him there (its that far away), the cost, the time commitment, how it would effect the other family members, how it would effect extended family members (as the weekends are the only time they can visit out of town grandparents), etc. There were about 100 different factors we considered and I might have tried to swing it somehow if he really wanted to do it even though it probably would have been super hard and something we could only do one year, not year after year after year, but ultimately he decided he thought it took up too much time.

    So we dodged that bullet. Life is not snap your fingers and something happens. If the money is not there, its not there. If the time is not there, its not there. If the support is not there, its not there.

    Most of the families that do the competition team have family members in town that can watch the other siblings all the time. We don’t have that. They also don’t have autistic siblings. They also have more money than us. They also live closer. They make it work because their circumstances are different. If someone there had the EXACT same situation as us and made it work, great, but as of yet, no one else does.

  164. JP April 12, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    aw shucks. 2nd helping.
    I know I’ve said this before….
    Part of the problem is organizational (as in all put together by adults)
    As a kid I never had this problem. Sports (of all wondrous kinds) and physical activity in general……was almost all unsupervised…..and 100% free. (I dunno – a $2 registration fee for something or other?)
    The point being – rampant activity that was fun, sporty, skill-enhancing and valuable in divers’ ways….was walked, biked or trotted to and from. No adults involved. No adults allowed. It was the kids’ show.
    And where exactly does THAT fit into the free-range thingy, um?
    Like (a banana slip vernacular) is the only way this works what the big folks put together for the little (and no quite so little) folks? As if every kid turns into a 400-pound anti-social couch potato unless soccer mom and baseball dad get in on the action?
    As if moving a muscle requires short sharp snapping into motion a whole entire set of socio-economic plug-ins?
    ………..instead of slipping out the kitchen door, ‘cross the backyard, down the back alley and ‘cross the street – into that magic field of dreams that used to be a “neighborhood” baseball park. Or a hockey rink, or any old place where kids could fool around and pretend to be athletic. All on their own time, in their own way, under their own steam.
    We lost that a long time ago.
    Methinks actually – that what I just described (depending on where you actually happen to live) fits today’s freerange model about as much as a chicken’s chance of survival on an average state freeway.
    “getting there” has become way too contrived.
    Hell – Dorothy had better odds in Oz.

    (yet – we just don’t think about that, it seems)
    What we’re stuck in works real well with a key and an ignition. It sucks for kids.
    end of rant.

  165. SOA April 12, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    I promise anyone that if you ask my kids if I am fair to them, they would absolutely say I am. I go out of my way to make things fair as possible. So it is kinda funny for someone to accuse me of not being fair.

    I agree about the commitment creep. It must be there because at least with the dance, I was originally told it would only be 2 days a week dance with a couple weekend practices and then the competitions. Then I find out as the year goes on and I observe all the stuff going on (I am on the facebook group and email list even though we are not on the competitive team) that they also have to do the initation ceremony, the Christmas party, the slumber party, choreography camp, parents come help build props, more than a couple Saturday practices, Spring Break camp, etc. Some of those things were not “mandatory” but you are kinda expected to be there and participate as much as possible.

    As you can imagine that is a LOT of time for all those things plus a week of Nationals competition, and about 5 weekend competitions. I just don’t have time for that and I am kinda surprised ANYONE has time for all that. Other moms told me it basically has to become your lifestyle.

    I was not ready for that. I did that as a kid and yes, it was my whole life and at the time I occasionally resented how much time it took, but I did enjoy it. Now looking back, I regret not doing more other things. Not socializing more, not doing more stuff at school, not trying some other things. Because it took all my time.

    So for my kids I vowed to make them more well rounded. I think that will be better for them. My son dances one day a week and gets to do the recreational performances. He is happy with that.

  166. JP April 12, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    (3rd helping – I’m such a hog)
    Anonymous This Time……………….

    All I can do is stand and applaud. (That distant whistle you hear is mine.)

  167. anonymous mom April 12, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    @Andy, I think you put it best. Families are different. I’m not going to say that a family willing to spend a lot of time on time-intensive sports programs is “obsessed,” but I absolutely don’t think declining to be involved in such activities is lazy.

    If you are somebody who is really into sports yourself, it might be hard to see why things like taking a child to practices 4 times a week or spending every weekend at events is an unreasonable demand. If one of my kids got super into, say, knitting, and wanted to join some knitting guild where they’d spend weeknights at meetings and classes and weekends at fiber festivals and we would have to spend a lot of our disposable income on supplies, I’d probably think that was tremendous fun, because it’s an interest of mine, too. It wouldn’t feel like a huge sacrifice (although we might have to, for the sake of the family has a whole, set limits). But, to most of my non-knitting friends, that would sound like utter insanity and they would rightfully be extremely reluctant to allow their child to explore the hobby to that extent. And, their child would be just fine with maybe a knitting class or group meeting each week or two, an occasional weekend outing to a fiber festival or yarn store, and kitting in their free time. I’m not going to say the family is lazy or wronging their child because they won’t let them participate in their hobby as fully as they possibly can.

  168. Andy April 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    @anonymous mom art of the problem is that the parent have to drive the kid to training and to competitions. When I was young, I used to go to training by public transport. Of course someone had to take me there while I was too young to go alone, but I suspect that cut off time was much sooner.

    Competitions were once in a while, definitely not every weekend. It was not usual for parents to come to see each one, only few of them came to see every one. It was perfectly normal for 12 years old to go alone to competition (meeting coach there) and no one through bad about parents or took it is as a sign they do not support/love their kids enough.

    When the competition was out of town, the club usually organized a bus to take us there and parents were not involved at all (except by paying).

    The same with boy/girl scouts around, their activities did not involved parents at all.

    Sport was something I did after school before parents came home from work. If you have been promising, then you had extra trainings and spent a of extra time with sport. However, parents were usually involved only by paying more money (better equipment + various fees). Basically, they seen you less cause you spend so much time in sport activities.

  169. CrazyCatLady April 12, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Warren, yes, I think some of my friends are nuts because of the time that they devote to one kid. It is not fair to the other kids, in my opinion. The families that have only one kid…well, that is their choice but I also see it taking a toll on their marriages. But….we are still friends. I am sure that some of my friends think I am nuts for the time that I devote to my kids by homeschooling them. Each to their own. You do what works for you, and I will do what works for us. We can each shake our heads at the obligations of the other.

    When I talked about the time commitment creep, I was venting at the organizations and people who can’t for what ever reason, as Horton the Elephant would say, “Say what they mean, and do what they say.” Especially with the sports that people pay a couple of hundred for a specific time and then have it expand. Who is going to drop out with that money on the line?

    But when you say that no one should have their typical kid stop doing something because of the needs of the special needs kid….I beg to differ. First, every family is different. Not all have mom that can look after one kid while dad takes the other. Time can be a HUGE issue, as can the health of the special needs child. A little friend of ours needs to travel 4 hours every other week to take care of her medical needs. Right at the time when big brother used to do chess club during one season, and baseball during the other. Mom leaves home at 3:00 am, and gets home the next morning around 1:00 am. Dad is available some of the time to transport son, but not regularly due to work commitments that is worse in the spring due to the nature of his work.

    I really wish for this family that things were different. More like when I was a kid, and Kiwanis did baseball in every little town for free, and my brothers walked or rode their bikes to practices and games. Yes, we all went some, but not all the time. Now, good luck even finding a baseball field in most little towns. Besides that, even if he did do this, one parent and sister would not be able to come games because sister can’t be out in the sun as it makes her medical condition worse.

    That said, I do know of another family, with 10 kids, and at least 3 of them (adopted) with extensive special needs. And yes, somehow the family manages to have kids in karate, doing group competitions, and things like that. Somehow, they are all able to balance the needs of the family. I suspect however, that they do it by saying that this season is the season for kids 3-5 to do what they want, the next season is for kids 1, 2 and 6 to do what they want. Not everyone gets what they want all the time.

  170. Warren April 12, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    Dolly, you are so full of shit your eyes are brown. Keep your story straight. Which is it, you decided or your son decided to stop dance? You tell so many different things to hopefully make people like you, that you cannot keep them straight. You are a joke.

  171. hineata April 13, 2014 at 5:20 am #

    @Anonymous – bravo!

    I do actually agree with the handful of sane parts in Warren’s latest rants – long-term it could be damaging to sibling relationships to have one miss out continually because of a special needs sibling. For that reason we personally have tried to ensure that our healthy kids get to do some more ‘expensive’ clubs etc. now we are not spending quite so much on El Sicko. They have been terrific over the years about missing the odd thing, but we have tried to see also that they get to do as much as possible that they want to do, within the level of our time and budget. Sounds like Dolly is doing something similar.

    @Warren – also, in all your current attacks on Dolly did you remember her sons are only about 6 years old, maybe 7 now? Why in the world would any sane person put a 6 year old in a ‘travel’ team anyway? That would be stupid, special needs sibling or not. Let the kids be kids, for goodness sake. I’m sure you weren’t playing ‘travel’ hockey at 6.

  172. SOA April 13, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    What Andy said was my experience too. Most kids did not get hardcore into activities competively until about middle school age and by then they did not need parents to be there 24/7 for them. We all loaded up in a couple cars or a bus to go to out of town competitions and the parents did not go along. Kids were dropped off for practice and picked up later or even drove themselves or caught rides and car pooled. Parents really were not required to do much but sign a check for fees and just make sure we made it there somehow.

    If my son wants to do competitive dance when he is older, I would be more willing because he can be dropped off or drive himself and I am not always required to be there. At 6 years old, parents are still pretty much required to be there the whole time.

    This Summer we are taking a break from dance and both boys want to try karate. So we are doing that for July and June and then see where we go from there.

  173. Emily April 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    @Warren–It’s entirely possible that Dolly and her son decided TOGETHER that the competitive dance team wasn’t a good idea right now. She probably presented the pros and cons to Dancer Son (or worked with him to come up with a pro/con list, Gilmore Girls style), and then they both came to the conclusion that many more hours of practice and conditioning, the long drive, the sacrifice of family time, and the toll it’d take on Autistic Son, meant that they’d rather stick with the regular classes for now. That’s okay–Dancer Son is SIX YEARS OLD. He can join the competitive team later, and either way, not a lot of kids who play sports or dance, grow up to be professionals. Dancer Son might just grow up to be the next Baryshnikov, but in the meantime, there are a lot of variables in the way–growth spurts, puberty, possible injuries, schoolwork and other interests that take time, being told by other boys at school that dance is for sissies (which is nonsense, but has still deterred many boy dancers), and a million other things. Either way, putting Dancer Son in competitive dance right now, won’t ensure that he’ll become a professional dancer. Dolly was a competitive dancer as a child, but isn’t a professional dancer now. There’s a woman from the YMCA who I used to take Zumba with (before I switched to the classes at the gym where I teach yoga), who was a competitive dancer as a teenager, but isn’t a professional dancer now; she’s just the best dancer in the Zumba class. By that same token, I don’t think that NOT putting Dancer Son on the competitive team Right This Minute will prevent him from becoming a professional dancer, if he’s meant to become one. It’s too early to tell, and it’s not worth turning Dolly’s entire family life upside down for something with such an unpredictable outcome.

  174. Suzanne April 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    This is a little over the top. Most kids won’t play for the pros but some will, maybe not mine or yours or maybe so. Actually, if your 8 year old can throw a baseball through 6 inches of plywood he has a better chance of playing in the pros than most others. Even though the chance of playing in the pros is low the chance of getting a scholarship is higher and that’s the hope I have for my kids. That said, they either have talent or they don’t, devoting tons of time and money into it won’t change that. My kids don’t play “travel” teams because that is way more time and effort and expense than I am willing to devote to it. To say to every parent that has a kid who plays sports that none of those children will play pro is to say there will be no pro sports teams when these kids grow up. Both extremes are wrong.

  175. Warren April 22, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

    Was talking to my mom today about the ballgame’s on Mother’ Day thing. And she admits that it was not her first choice, but she did it anyway, because she is a Mom, and that is what you do. And as to those of you that would not go, Mom would like you to know…”Just selfish bitches, that do not know what it is to be a mom.”.

    I love my mom, and she is right.