Plenty of parents dream of their children growing up to be professional athletes or Olympic gold medalists. But just because we want our children to be heavily invested in their youth sports team that doesn’t always mean they want to be! Obviously if children make a commitment to their team, they should understand they are expected to finish out the season. However, some parents (not us of course!) should sometimes take a step backward and remember never push their children to participate in any organized activity, including youth sports. Here are a few reasons why:
Sports aren’t for everyone.
For many cultures, sports superstars are the closest we get to a modern day Hercules. Of course every parent wants their child to excel in some field, but pushing a child to play youth sports when they are no longer interested means they don’t get to explore other opportunities and learn new skills. Maybe they are interested in joining the school band or want to get more involved in community theater. It doesn’t matter what extracurricular activities they want to get involved in as long as they are happy doing it! Youth sports aren't the only place children can learn valuable life lessons, make new friends and have a great time.
It’s no longer fun.
Most kids get involved in youth sports when they are little because it’s fun. They get to hang out with the friends, learn new skills and feel like they belong somewhere. At a certain point, youth athletes realize that if they want to compete at a higher level they have to put in a serious amount of dedication and commitment. It's hard to put that much time and effort into something your heart just doesn't belong to, no matter how good you may be at it. Even "natural athletes" can get tired of their sports. For those that just want to play for playing sake, there are always intramural teams to join! We have to remember not to turn sports into a chore for the kiids!
Who is really benefitting from it?
It may be a dream to see your favorite athlete become quarterback for the New York Giants (well, unless you are a Patriots fan) or to see them win a gold medal in gymnastics at the 2024 Olympics, but is it theirs? Children want to please the ones they love even if it means doing something they don’t love. Let's be careful to realize the difference between our dreams and theirs.